The Senate passed a postal bill in April that would have provided financial relief in part by reducing the annual health payments and providing a multibillion-dollar cash infusion, basically a refund of overpayments the Postal Service made to a federal pension fund. The House, however, remains stalled over its own legislation that would allow for aggressive cuts, including an immediate end to Saturday delivery.
It remained unclear whether House leadership would take up the postal bill in its current lame-duck session. Rural lawmakers are resisting action, worried about closures of postal facilities in their communities. Congress is focused now on a Jan. 1 deadline to avert across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff.”
While urging quick congressional action, the Postal Service acknowledged the uncertainty in its legal filings yesterday, which anticipate that Congress will fail to act.
But Rep. Darrell Isa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and sponsor of the House bill, has said he believes postal legislation can be passed this year.
“The U.S. Postal Service is clearly marching toward a financial collapse of its own,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a sponsor of the Senate bill. “I am hopeful that now that the elections are over, my colleagues and I can come together and pass postal reform legislation so that a final bill can be signed into law by the end of the year.”
Overall, the post office had operating revenue of $65.2 billion in fiscal 2012, down $500 million from the previous year. Expenses climbed to $81 billion, up from $70.6 billion, largely due to the health prepayments.
The annual payment of roughly $5.6 billion had been deferred for a year in 2011, resulting in a double payment totaling $11.1 billion that became due this year. The Postal Service is the only government agency required to make such payments.