Congressman Tom Latham says there’s a developing “bipartisan consensus” in congress to maintain Saturday delivery of the mail. Latham, a Republican from Clive, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the issue came up today during a committee meeting.
“In the appropriations bill we had an amendment this morning that passed on a bipartisan basis to stop the Postal Service from going to any kind of a process to eliminate six-day delivery,” Latham says. “I just believe for rural America that it’s the wrong move. It doesn’t really save much money, if any.”
Latham says ending Saturday delivery would “contribute to the demise” of the Postal Service as customers depending on first class mail delivery six days a week would seek out other providers that do deliver on Saturday.
“I just don’t believe at this point, unless you’re doing total Postal reform to include everything and then look at it, but to just take that one part — eliminating six-day delivery — I think is not a wise move,” Latham says.
In February the U.S. Postal Service announced it would end letter delivery on Saturdays, starting this August, and save $2 billion, but the plan was shelved after congress provided a stop-gap spending measure for the Postal Service through September 30th. Now, Latham and others on the House Appropriations Committee have weighed in and called for a longer-term halt to the idea.
“In the urban areas there may be some alternatives, however I think it would obviously be a hardship for a lot of folks to not to get mail on Saturday,” Latham says. “A lot of people look forward to their mail everyday and certainly the idea of delaying for another day first-class delivery would have a negative impact on the Postal Service.”
The U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $16 billion last year. Latham says before the step of ending Saturday delivery is contemplated, congress needs to resolve the main financial drain on the Postal Service.
“Their big problem is the huge contributions they have to make, like 75 years in advance, for the retirement funds of the employees themselves,” Latham says. “That really is an issue that needs to be addressed.”
The issue of Saturday mail delivery is far from resolved. Last week the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee began pushing legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to end letter delivery on Saturdays, but continue to deliver packages and other parcels. The number of letters sent by first-class mail continues to drop significantly, while the volume of packages sent through the U.S. Postal Service has been increasing.