The U.S. Senate on Sept. 30 passed an appropriations bill that gives the U.S. Postal Service $4 billion in relief on payments into the health benefits trust fund. It also continued funding of all other federal agencies in a status quo situation until Oct. 31.
This “continuing resolution” has become a practice in federal funding dating back to the 1980s. When Congress cannot get its main homework of appropriating money to operate the federal government by the beginning of the Oct. 1 fiscal year, it passes a series of continuing resolutions that maintains funding at current levels until a date certain.
The mandate for six-day mail remains. It will come up again before Oct. 31, if and when Congress decides to address appropriations for the Postal Service for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The $4 billion rider, however, is good for the fiscal year.
This is a long way of saying we have part of the answer now. The Postal Service will indeed get some cashflow relief. But we must now wait another 30 days before we know whether the 6 day delivery rider will stay in force throughout the 2010 fiscal year. If you haven’t yet contacted your Congressional delegation with your concerns, you have another month to work on the issue.
The Postal Service, however, continues to move toward ending Saturday delivery—evidently assuming that if the legislation doesn’t allow the change in Fiscal Year 2010, Congress will permit dropping Saturdays in 2011.
We know the Postal Regulatory Commission is planning hearings on this subject, and is considering field hearings outside of Washington.
We will keep you posted.
Max Heath, National Newspaper Association Postal Committee Chairman
Tonda Rush, National Newspaper Association Director/Public Policy