By Erik Wasson
The U.S. Postal Service reported Friday that it suffered a net $3.1 billion loss in the three months ending June 30.
Without the intervention of Congress, the service said, it will default on payments it owes the federal government in September.
The mounting losses could could force quick action on a postal reform bill next month.
While the loss in the last quarter was smaller than the $3.5 billion loss it suffered during the same period last year, the Postal Service has lost $5.7 billion in the first nine months of the fiscal year. That's more than it had lost to this point in the last fiscal year.
The service blamed the “anemic” state of the economy and the continued rise of email, which has decimated its core first-class mail business.
After delivering 40.9 billion pieces of mail between April and June in 2010, the service delivered 39.8 billion pieces of mail during that period this year.
To try to make up for the losses, the Postal Service is looking at closing post offices and has identified 3,700 locations for possible closure.
“We continue to take aggressive actions to reduce costs and bring the size of our infrastructure into alignment with reduced customer demand,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
USPS chief financial officer Joseph Corbett in a statement said that the losses mean that the service will not be able to make a $5.5 billion prepayment for future retiree benefits.
“Absent substantial legislative change, the Postal Service will be forced to default on payments to the federal government,” a release states.
There are four major legislative proposals in Congress to deal with the USPS’s woes.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has proposed a bill that he says would save at least $6 billion annually by, among other things, creating a new commission to shed excess USPS facilities. He would also allow the USPS to cancel Saturday mail, something it is seeking to do.
Issa does not allow the USPS to dodge the September payment.
“The Postal Service’s announcement of yet another multibillion-dollar loss underscores the need to enact meaningful reforms in order to avoid a taxpayer-funded bailout. These deficits clearly cannot be closed by bailing out the Postal Service with taxpayer money or allowing the Postal Service to amass obligations to employees, retirees and taxpayers that are unlikely to be fully met in the future,” Issa said in a statement Friday.
Two other proposed legislative reforms — from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) — deal more directly with USPS’s $5.5 billion healthcare payment by crediting the USPS billions of extra dollars the service says it has already paid into the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
Carper has expressed an openness to allow USPS to move to five-day delivery, while Collins has expressed skepticism to that approach.
"The U.S. Postal Service is sinking quickly, and if we do nothing, we face a future without the valuable services the Postal Service provides. We have the opportunity to keep it afloat, but we must act now. I urge Congress and the Administration to join me in pushing for this much-needed reform so we can prevent the Postal Service from going broke by the end of the year," Carper said in a statement.
An earlier version of this post misstated Sens. Carper and Collins's proposals on allowing USPS to move to five-day delivery.Full story: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/appropriations/175663-postal-service-delivers-more-bad-news?tmpl=component&print=1&page