Bipartisan lawmakers call for Postal Service relief
A bipartisan group of top lawmakers on Thursday called on congressional leadership to ensure that the Postal Service secures emergency funding in time to avoid running out of money in a matter of months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The postmaster general has warned Congress that the Postal Service will run out of money by the end of the fiscal year unless it receives assistance from the federal government, due to the expectation that it will lose $13 billion in revenue from the pandemic with mail volume down by more than 30 percent from last year.
In a letter to House and Senate leaders of both parties, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Pete King (R-N.Y.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) backed the Postal Service Board of Governors’s request for $25 billion to offset coronavirus-related losses, $25 billion for projects to modernize the Postal Service and access to another $25 billion in borrowing authority.
“We strongly support emergency funding for the Postal Service and urge you to do the same,” the lawmakers, who said they are forming a “Postal Preservation Caucus,” wrote to congressional leaders.
“The American people rely on the Postal Service to deliver crucial goods and services every day, including more than a billion life-saving medications last year alone, millions of economic stimulus checks and unemployment benefits to help during this crisis, and 2020 Census forms for every household in America,” they added.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted that Democrats tried to secure funding last month for the Postal Service in the $2.2 trillion relief package and initially had enough support among Senate Republicans to provide at least some money for the agency.
But the White House then blocked the request.
“We had some support in the Senate on the Republican side. But the White House — and they told me it came right from the president — [said] no money for the post office,” Pelosi said.
The legislation instead granted the Postal Service access to $10 billion in emergency loans. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that he supports President Trump’s call for overhauling the Postal Service.
Trump last week threatened to block assistance for the Postal Service if it didn’t raise its prices, calling the agency a “joke.” He said that the Postal Service should quadruple its prices, arguing that it was giving too much leeway to companies like Amazon.
“If they don’t raise the price of the service they give, which is a tremendous service, and they do a great job and the postal workers are fantastic — but this thing’s losing billions of dollars,” Trump said. “It has for years because they don’t want to insult for whatever reason, you can imagine, they don’t want to insult Amazon and these other groups. If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything.”
Trump later tweeted that he “will never let our Post Office fail.”
King, who is not running for reelection, argued during a call with reporters on Thursday that now isn’t the time to leverage Postal Service reforms when it is at risk of running out of money.
“People have agendas, whether they’re opposed to the post office or they want to try to change the post office. That’s all for another day. We can’t be doing that during the midst of a pandemic using this as an excuse to basically destroy the post office,” King said.