By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Faced with continued opposition in Congress, the United States Postal Service has dropped its plan to end to Saturday mail deliveries, but it wants lawmakers to keep the 49¢ stamp in place.
Retaining the current postage rates was one of the key elements of a plan Postmaster General Megan Brennan laid before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee at a Jan. 21 hearing.
Making her first appearance before a congressional committee, Brennan outlined a four-point plan she said was endorsed by major stakeholders in the mailing community that could make the Postal Service financially stable in five years.
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In addition to keeping the current stamp rates, that plan would give the USPS increased authority to provide new products, recalculate retiree benefits, and make Medicare the primary health carrier for postal retirees, thus cutting the Postal Service’s costs.
If the current emergency postal rates are allowed to continue past their planned expiration early this year, Brennan said the USPS can put in place an estimated $27 billion in cost reductions that will give the USPS stability despite continued losses of first-class mail.
Both Brennan and other witnesses at the hearing urged the committee to move quickly on their request.
“The time is now,” she said repeatedly.
Committee chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., endorsed efforts to resolve the Postal Service’s prolonged financial problems.
“We have to solve this,” he said as he went over a balance sheet showing the Postal Service’s debt problems.
His support could be critical to getting a relief bill through the Senate.
Prospects for passage in the House, which has not scheduled hearings on the Postal Service’s financial problems, are unclear.