House Panel Approves Postal Bill Ending Saturday, Doorside Mail

Saturday mail service and most doorside deliveries would be phased out under U.S. Postal Service overhaul legislation approved today by a U.S. House panel.

The bill is the latest effort by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa. to address the financial bleeding at the Postal Service, which reported losing $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2013.

“This is an institution that not only should be saved and is a goal to be saved, it must be saved,” Issa, a California Republican, said today during his committee’s consideration of the bill.

The 22-17 vote showed the partisan divide over the proposal, with the committee’s Democrats opposing it.

“Unfortunately, the bill before us today still includes a number of extreme provisions that would degrade existing Postal services, unduly burden the Postal Service with additional debt, and harm postal employees,” Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the committee, said in his opening statement.

The bill, H.R. 2748, would end mail service on Saturdays, while allowing deliveries of packages to continue six days a week. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the oversight panel in April that eliminating Saturday service would save $2 billion a year.

Earlier this year, the Postal Service’s proposal to halt Saturday service provoked criticism from lawmakers and the public. The Postal Service Board of Governors in April directed postal officials to delay implementation of the Saturday service termination until the enactment of legislation giving it the authority to do so.

Issa’s legislation would also change delivery for about 28 percent of U.S. addresses that currently receive mail at the door or in a mail slot, according to a summary of the bill prepared by the committee’s Republican staff. Under the bill, most door delivery would end by 2022 unless a customer pays an additional fee.

Union Opposition

The National Association of Letter Carriers labor union said ending Saturday mail delivery would eliminate the postal service’s biggest advantage over competitors such as FedEx Corp. (FDX) and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS)

The union, which represents letter carriers in urban areas, said in a statement opposing the bill that ending doorside delivery would be “unfair and deeply unpopular burden on customers.”

Issa scaled back provisions from previous legislation that would have targeted existing postal worker contracts. Union officials say the new measure is still a threat to collective bargaining because it would prohibit future contracts from barring layoffs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Caitlin Webber in Washington at cwebber4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo5@bloomberg.net

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