March 9, 2013

Owens supports continued Saturday mail delivery

PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens is supporting legislation to maintain full Saturday delivery by the U.S. Postal Service through September.

The agency decided earlier this year to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail — while continuing to drop off packages — as of Aug. 5 as a cost-savings measure.

As well, mail would still be delivered to post-office boxes, and retail locations that now operate on Saturdays would stay open.

But the resolution approved by the House this week would require first-class delivery to continue through the end of September, when the term ends. The Senate still has to act on the measure.

“I have long said that the Postal Service can find ways to cut costs that don’t impact the services that families and businesses depend on,” Owens said in a statement.

“Requiring the continuation of Saturday delivery is entirely appropriate as we look for ways to responsibly cut federal spending in the months ahead.”

The continuing resolution, which funds government operations through the end of September, passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 267-151.

Owens (D-Plattsburgh) has supported measures to cut spending and raise revenue at the Postal Service without impacting operations, according to a news release from his office.

In February, he wrote to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to encourage a more aggressive approach to generating revenue. He also asked that the Postal Service again consider the effect that service cuts have on rural areas.

The New York congressional delegation, including Owens, recently sent its own letter as well to Donahoe in support of six-day first-class delivery.

Much of the Postal Service’s budget shortfall is attributable to a pre-funding requirement, initiated by Congress in 2006, for employee health benefits, in addition to overpayments USPS made to employee pensions, Owens’s release said.

He co-sponsored legislation in the 112th Congress (H.R. 1351, H.R. 3591) to address those gaps.

“Smart cuts, good management and a balanced approach will clear the path towards fiscal health, whether we’re talking about the Postal Service or the federal budget,” he said.

“As we continue this process, it is my hope that the parties come together to do exactly that.”

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