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U.S. Reps. Moran, Connolly Blast Post Office Decision to Suspend Saturday Service

Connolly writes letter to Postmaster General, asking for legal justification; cites study that says reducing mail volume will lead to revenue loss of $5.2 billion in first year.

Stopping the mail on Saturdays? Not so fast say two members of the Northern Virginia congressional delegation.

Northern Virginia's U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8th) and U.S. Rep Gerald Connolly (D-11th) expressed concern Wednesday afternoon about the U.S. Postal Service's announcement that it plans to suspend delivery of first-class mail service on Saturdays beginning in August. The USPS released a fact sheet Wednesday.

“I have great concerns about eliminating Saturday mail delivery," Moran wrote in an email to Patch. "The Postal Service is grappling with major forces outside of its control: an economy increasingly relying on email and the Internet for communication, and a Congress that refuses to address the redundant pension pre-funding requirement."

"Both forces are driving a well functioning system into the red — only one can be fixed in the short run," said Moran, who represents Alexandria, Arlington and parts of Fairfax County. "Congress can and should drop the pre-funding requirement so that we can forestall drastic measures for as long as possible, giving the Postal Service more time to adapt to the changing economy.”

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11th) is taking action. Connolly, who represents Fairfax City and parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties, said that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe "lacks the constitutional and statutory authority to unilaterally implement his announced plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery to tens of millions of American homes and businesses."

In a sternly worded letter to Donahoe, sent hours after the postmaster general announced that the U.S. Postal Service plans to end Saturday mail delivery starting in August, Connolly requested that USPS provide legal justification and documentation for the proposed action. The Virginia congressman made the same request to Attorney General Eric Holder and Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway.

“Logic dictates that when USPS and the Administration repeatedly request that Congress explicitly provide USPS the authority to reduce mail service from six days to five days, it is clear acknowledgement that, absent Congressional action, USPS lacks the statutory authority to do so,” Connolly said in his letter. 

The letter includes the signature of Republican Congressman Sam Graves.

For nearly three decades, Congress has repeatedly passed legislation prohibiting USPS from administratively transitioning to a five-day delivery mail schedule.

Connolly said that six-day mail delivery “remains a critical strength and competitive advantage for USPS that will enable it to grow business and bolster revenue in the long run.” 

He warned that accelerating a decline in mail volume could result in additional revenue losses and wipe out any operational cost savings, citing a 2012 confidential study commissioned by USPS showing that a 7.7 percent reduction in mail volume would lead to a revenue loss of $5.2 billion in the first year alone.

John Pike February 07, 2013 at 12:03 PM
I seriously believe residential home delivery of our catalogs and advertisements by the Post Office could now be done effectively other day of the week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday delivery would be fine.
Mike Reno February 07, 2013 at 12:13 PM
The past 20 years have not afforded them enough time to adapt to email? And while it is chic in Washington to pass on debt to our children, it is normally done in more subtle ways. I am surprised at the brazen call to end the prudent practice of fully funding the pensions, which would clearly pile on even more debt to our grandchildren. Are we willing to do this in order to receive more junk mail on Saturday?
Bob February 07, 2013 at 08:13 PM
People complain about the government spending too much money. An agency suggests a way for it to do that, and people complain. When somebody has to sacrifice (even if it isn't a huge one, like getting mail only on weekdays!), it's different, isn't it? This legalism on the part of members of the House and Senate is just a smokescreen.
VABUCKI February 08, 2013 at 06:05 PM
The Post Office is only doing what any business would do. Reduce expenses. They can't cut jobs (Union has a no lay off clause). They won't reduce benefits, and pensions/health care for Postal Workers are even better than the Federal Govt. So that leaves services to the public. This will work for a while until they end up like the telegraph workers did before phones put them out of business.
Peter Himmelberger February 09, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Congress created the postal service present structure so that they could effectively compete, but won't allow them to do anything to be competitive, like change their structure, prices, deliveries, 3rd class junk mail. I would pay to not have junk mail delivered. Banks are competing with the postal service by providing electronic bill notices and payments online. I am guilty of using it so for 20 bills I used to get through the mail and 20 payments I used to send through the mail that's $200 + they no longer get from just me. Connolly and Congress should let them compete or put them out of their misery.

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