Speaker Boehner says he hopes for action ‘soon’ on postal reform

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday he hopes the Congress will act “soon” to enact postal reform, hours after the cash-strapped Postal Service announced it plans to end Saturday mail delivery.

The House failed to follow the Senate in passing an overhaul of the Postal Service in 2012, but the Speaker said it was imperative that both chambers act in 2013.

“The Congress needs to act. There’s no question about that, and I hope that we’ll act soon,” Boehner told reporters at a Capitol news conference.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved legislation in October 2011, but it never reached the House floor. Boehner said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), was continuing to have “bipartisan conversations,” but he acknowledged that the politics of the post office were complicated.

“I think trying to act in this postal area is pretty difficult,” Boehner said. “But I understand where the postal commission is coming from. They’re in charge with running the post office, but yet the Congress, in its wisdom, has tied their hands every which way in order for them to actually run the post office in a revenue neutral way.”

The postal service said it would continue to deliver packages on Saturday under the plan, which would take effect in August, but cease delivery of other mail. In a statement, Issa said he supported the decision.

In the continuing resolution that is currently funding the federal government, Congress has expressly forbade the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday service. But that resolution expires in late March.

The Postal Service lost nearly $16 billion in fiscal 2012. The majority of the losses came from a requirement to prepay for future retiree healthcare, which is one of the major issues lawmakers are grappling with.