Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Today, Oregon's Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined 22 other Senators in challenging the postmaster general's authority to discontinue Saturday mail delivery later this year without congressional approval.

In a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, the senators acknowledge the financial challenges the Postal Service is facing and urge him to work with Congress to address these problems through bipartisan reform, such as the Senate legislation passed last year.

They also point out that a shift to five-day service could lead to further declines in mail volume and revenues, worsening the U.S. Postal Service's overall condition.

Merkley and Wyden joined Senators Tom Udall, Tom Harkin, Al Franken, Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, Mark Begich, Martin Heinrich, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Max Baucus, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Mazie Hirono, Joe Manchin, Jack Reed, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse, Michael Bennet, Mark Udall, Brian Schatz and Heidi Heitkamp in the letter to the postmaster today.

They note that recently the Postal Service itself has recognized it lacks the power to terminate six-day service.

"[A]s recently as last year, the Postal Service did not believe it had the authority to end six-day delivery without legislative action by Congress. For example, in the USPS's 'Plan for Profitability,' released on February 6, 2012, savings for five-day delivery were categorized under the heading of 'legislative initiatives'," they wrote.

"Furthermore, you personally delivered testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on September 6, 2011 where you noted that 'Congress must act ... [to] allow the Postal Service the authority to determine delivery frequency.'"

They also point out the move is a violation of existing law under the Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2012.

"[W]e believe your proposal does not comply with the existing statutory requirement to continue six-day delivery and rural delivery mail services at no less than the 1983 levels. "

Such a move would impact 70,000 jobs and negatively affect the rural communities they represent.

"With the national unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, moving to five-day delivery will hurt middle class families," they said.

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