The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday it was abandoning a plan to end Saturday mail delivery.
Pressure from Congress was cited as the reason for the change of heart. The agency’s governing board made the decision in a closed meeting Tuesday.
With limited options for saving money, the board said the agency should reopen negotiations with unions to lower labor costs and consider raising mail prices.
Yet the board also said it’s not possible for the Postal Service to meet its goals for reduced spending without altering the delivery schedule. Delaying “responsible changes,” the board said, only makes it more likely that the Postal Service “may become a burden” to taxpayers.
Congressional reaction was mixed, mirroring differences that have stalled a needed postal overhaul for some time. Some lawmakers had urged the agency to forge ahead with its plan, while others had said it lacked the legal authority to do so.
Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., was among those welcoming the decision. “This is good news for rural communities, businesses, seniors, veterans and others who depend on consistent and timely delivery of the mail,” Sanders said Wednesday.
Sanders has argued that the Postal Service’s real problem is a 2006 requirement that the agency pre-fund 75 years of retiree health benefits over a 10-year period — something no other agency does. He attributes 80 percent of the agency’s debt since 2007 to that provision.
Sanders introduced a bill in February that would reverse that policy, try to give the Postal Service new ways of making money through services such as notarizing documents, and create a commission to recommend new revenue streams.