MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The 112th Congress may go down as the biggest do-nothing Congress in history and that’s perfectly displayed in what’s about to happen to the U.S. Post Office.
Wednesday, the Post Office will likely default on a legally required $5.5 billion payment to future postal retiree health benefits. A second payment of $5.6 billion to the same benefit package will happen at the end of September. The USPS said it will need to also delay a $1.5 billion payment to the Labor Department for workers compensation.
The USPS is regulated by Congress, but doesn’t use taxpayer money. It’s long been suffering from poor management and a steep decline in traditional mail services as many companies switch to e-billing and other forms of electronic communication.
Last year, the Postal Service lost $5.1 billion, according to CNBC. The Washington Post also reported that the decline in postal usage by Americans and businesses is “leading to roughly $25 million in losses each day.”
The Senate passed a bill in April that would have ended Saturday delivery, use surplus funds for retirements to shrink the workforce, and would spread the payments over several years to ease the burden. The Senate proposal also had amendments delaying post office and mail processing facility closings, especially in rural communities, according to the Post.
The House said last month they would have their own bill to keep the health payments and create oversight groups to close facilities and cut costs before the summer recess, according to CNBC. But a House vote hasn’t been scheduled and members leave at the end of the week until after Labor Day.
In other words, things look awfully grim for the Post Office thanks to Congressional gridlock. House Republicans declined the Senate bill because it would have injected $11 billion in cash to avoid default, calling it a “bailout.”
Officially the post office said it will not suffer any outage even if it defaults on the payment Wednesday.