Graves pushes to continue six-day mail delivery

Rep. Sam Graves has taken the congressional lead in pushing the U.S. Postal Service to continue its six-day mail delivery service.

While postal officials warn of huge operating losses resulting from declining mail volume and last year’s high gas prices, the Republican lawmaker called the current delivery schedule “an essential service.”

The Northwest Missouri representative has introduced legislation that would express “the sense of the House” about maintaining a six-day schedule that began in 1912. Any reduction, Mr. Graves said, would serve a particular hardship on a largely agricultural district like the one he represents.

“I believe that any cutback on postal delivery would disproportionately hurt rural areas,” he said in a statement.

House leaders referred the proposed resolution to the chamber’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, Democrats Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Zoe Lofgren of California, and Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey, joined the Graves bill in co-sponsorship.

The resolution claims working families depend on the postal service for the timely delivery of paychecks. It also contends a curtailed schedule might create mail back-ups that could actually escalate costs because of increased overtime.

Also, “Social Security is the primary or sole source of income for many senior citizens, and any delay in the delivery of their Social Security checks would make it difficult for them to purchase even essential items, such as food and medicine,” the resolution reads.

In testimony before a congressional subcommittee late last month, Postmaster General John E. Potter said the postal service could experience a net loss of $6 billion this fiscal year, despite sweeping efforts to cut costs. Contributing factors were the high cost of fueling 220,000 postal vehicles and mail volume expected to decline 12 billion to 15 billion pieces this fiscal year from the last.

“It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable,” Mr. Potter told the subcommittee.

To curtail the schedule, Congress would have to remove a provision in its annual postal service appropriation that calls for six-day delivery. That stipulation has been in place since 1983.


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