Postmaster General OK with GOP transportation plan

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Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Monday that he is OK with a House GOP plan to tie cut backs in mail delivery to transportation funding in an interview with the Washington Post.

Donahoe said the plan from Republican leaders to use approximately $15 billion they say can be saved by eliminating Saturday letter deliveries might make it more likely that lawmakers can agree on a broad postal reform package.

“We not only need five-day delivery,” Donahoe told the paper. “But I would say, if this was able to help take the angst out of the [broader postal] legislation for some lawmakers, that would help us out.”

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Transportation and external post service advocates have slammed the Republican proposal as a short-sighted plan that would not solve the funding problems that are facing either area.

Lawmakers are trying to prevent a bankruptcy in the Department of Transportation's Highway Trust Fund that is projected to occur as early as August without congressional action.

The traditional funding source for transportation is money that is collected by the federal gas tax, which is currently priced at 18.4 cents-per-gallon. The gas tax only brings in about $34 billion per year however, while the federal government currently spends approximately $50 billion per year on transportation projects.

Republican leaders in the House have said their plan to take money from eliminating Saturday letter deliveries would provide enough funding to close the shortfall for at least one year.

Democrats in the Senate have objected to the House's plan, however, calling it "unworkable" and arguing for a more permanent solution.

The Post Service has been facing its own financial challenges in recent years, but lawmakers have been as gridlocked on a fix there as they are on transportation funding.  

The idea of cutting back to five-day delivery of letters has received bipartisan support. However, some postal advocates have argued that the service should still be able to deliver packages on Saturdays to compete with private companies like FedEx and USPS because of the boom in recent years in online shopping.

Donahoe told the Post that he shared transportation advocates desire for a longer-term solution to his agency's funding problems.

“We’ve consistently said we need Congress to pass comprehensive legislation,” he said.