It turned out he was not.
Some lawmakers say the Postal Service could still legally end Saturday delivery, since it planned to continue delivering packages on Saturdays.
Among them is the chief House negotiator on any legislation to give the agency more financial flexibility.
On Wednesday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) criticized Donahoe for succumbing to political pressure, not legal barriers.
“It’s quite clear that special interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much greater role in the Postal Service’s change of heart than any real or perceived barrier to implementing” a change to five-day delivery, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in a statement.
He called the reversal a “setback” to legislation. Aides said that means postal officials have lost credibility with Issa and some conservative Republicans, who want to make sure the agency is serious about cutting costs in exchange for a subsidy from Congress.
Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Issa’s counterpart in the Senate, said in a statement that the “only way to save the Postal Service” is for Congress to pass legislation that, among other changes, reimburses the retiree payments.
It’s unclear when negotiations on a bill will begin and whether it will have bipartisan backing. The last Congress failed to reach an agreement.
Labor leaders had condemned five-day delivery as an unnecessary ploy to kill up to 25,000 letter-carrier, clerk and mail-sorting jobs through attrition, reassignments and buyouts. On Wednesday, they praised the decision to backtrack. But they also opposed any effort to reopen contracts that the four largest postal unions have recently negotiated with management.
“Asking the [union] to renegotiate a contract that was just settled in January is insulting and unnecessary,” Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a statement.
Postal officials declined to give details of what concessions they plan to seek from unions.
If the agency wants regulators to approve an increase to rates, it must convince them that its financial condition requires an override of a 2006 law that does not allow increases above the rate of inflation.
The Postal Regulatory Commission turned down such a request for a 5.6 percent jump in 2010.
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