With default looming, senators urge House postal action

"More than three months ago, the Senate passed comprehensive postal reform by a strong bipartisan vote. Changes are needed now, but we cannot move forward without action by the House of Representatives,” Collins, the committee’s ranking Republican, said in her own statement. "Failure to act is irresponsible and only ensures that the financial free fall of the Postal Service will continue.”

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The Postal Service has said that it will not be able to make either Wednesday’s scheduled payment for future retiree healthcare or a similar payment due at the end of September. Combined, the agency owes roughly $11 billion on those payments. The cash-strapped agency has lost billions of dollars in recent years, amid declining mail volume.

USPS has also said that defaulting on the payments will not affect day-to-day operations in the short-term. But Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has urged Congress to come together on a final postal bill, and private-sector groups that use the Postal Service have also called on lawmakers to produce a final bill. 

Key backers of the House GOP bill — from Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the Oversight chairman, and Dennis Ross (Fla.) — say they have the votes to pass it. The measure would pave the way for a task force to recommend post office closures and a task force empowered to cut costs.

But in an election year, postal reform could be a tough vote for some lawmakers, with rural members having already expressed concern about ensuring access to postal services for their constituents.