Senate Approves Changes To The U.S. Postal Service

Source: Ed O’Keefe / The Washington Post

Congress moved one step closer Wednesday to overhauling the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service by approving sweeping reforms to rebalance the mail agency’s finances and help cut the size of its delivery network.

The bipartisan measure passed 62 to 37 and would give the Postal Service nearly $11 billion to offer buyouts and early retirement incentives to hundreds of thousands of postal workers and to pay off its debts. Revised estimates on how much USPS owes to federal worker pension accounts have determined that the agency has overpaid its obligations to the fund over several years.

The measure also would permit the end of Saturday mail deliveries in two years, only after USPS determines it is financially necessary. The Postal Service also could move forward with plans to shutter thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail distribution centers — but senators placed several restrictions on when, where and how outposts in rural communities could be closed.

The bill also modifies mail service standards to ensure that the Postal Service preserves the overnight delivery of mail sent to nearby communities, but allows USPS to slow the delivery of mail destined for destinations farther away.

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