The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Congress to Postal Service: Drop Dead

When the Postal Service announced plans to suspend Saturday mail delivery, we speculated that Congress might get in the way, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The Postal Service is going before the Senate today and is expected to defend its decision against the vehement opposition of a group of powerful Senators, including Harry Reid, who believe the USPS is overstepping its bounds by defying a congressional mandate to deliver mail six days per week. The New York Times reports:

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said in a statement last week that the move required Congressional approval and accused Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general, of relying on flawed legal advice. [...]

Lawmakers say the [Congressional] mandate is implied because the current budget measure refers to a 2012 spending bill that requires six-day delivery. Congress could write the mandate into another spending measure, though lawmakers so far have not said they would do so.

This is foolish. The Postal Service desperately needs to get its finances in order, and Congress has now become the chief obstacle to getting there, perhaps greater even than the postal workers’ union. Both the USPS and the American public have made it abundantly clear that they’re ready to consider these changes, but Congress can’t seem to let go of its grip on the service and the patronage opportunities that come with it.

Published on February 13, 2013 12:50 pm