The United States Postal Service has requested that Congress pave the way for its plans to trim costs in an attempt to avoid a taxpayer bailout. The agency made plans earlier this month to stop delivering first class mail, direct mail and magazines on Saturdays. That plan would go into effect in August if Congress doesn’t move to block it, and it would save the USPS $2 billion annually after the plan is fully in effect.
NBC News reports that at this point there’s no law that says the USPS must deliver mail six days per week, but Congress put a provision in a certain piece of legislation that would require the postal service to continue its six-day delivery weeks. That provision expires in March—if Congress allows it to.
Some lawmakers say the $2 billion in savings is far too small to cover the $20 billion annual gap the USPS currently has. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said if Congress doesn’t allow the postal service to change the way it does business, they could end up requiring a $45 billion taxpayer bailout by 2017.
It’s up to Congress to pass a law to restructure the postal service, but so far agreement among lawmakers is a problem. Right now the agency spends over $13 billion in healthcare, which includes payments it is required to make into the healthcare fund that’s set aside for future retirees. Postal officials say much of the agency’s financial problem is due to the large healthcare costs it deals with.
The USPS has slashed almost 200,000 jobs in the last six years, but that still hasn’t been enough for the agency to catch up financially.