A U.S. Senate panel is supposed to vote today on a measure that would force the U.S. Postal Service to continue to deliver the mail on Saturdays, something many say is important to rural states. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he’s not committed to the idea of maintaining the six-day-a-week delivery schedule.
“There’s trade-offs here,” Harkin says. “I want to keep a healthy, vibrant United States postal system going. If that means we may have to give up Saturday service, well, I’ll be glad to take a look at that. I’m not going to fall on my sword and say under no circumstances can we give up Saturday service.”
The Postal Service is in foul financial condition as mail volume has dropped from 211-billion pieces to 176-billion just in the past three years. Harkin, a Democrat, says he’s not sure it’s cost-effective to keep deliveries on Saturdays.
Harkin says, “All things being equal, yes, I would love to see six-day (service) continue but more importantly is to keep the USPS going and to keep it as a broader-based service to everyone.”
The legislation to maintain Saturday mail service is in a spending bill going before the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Harkin is a member. He says he hasn’t made up his mind yet how he’ll vote.
“We’ll have to see what happens today, I don’t know,” Harkin says. “I have even thought about it and I’m sort of thinking out loud right now. I may support that continuing Saturday service for now, although I’m giving you fair warning, this is not something that I may hold on to forever and ever.”
The Postal Service reported losses last year of $3.8-billion dollars.