Americans rely on the United States Postal Service to be in service six days per week, but recent budget cuts could lead to the closing of offices across the country. In Washington D.C., the Senate is debating action that would prevent the closure of nearly 260 facilities.
Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the main supporters of the new bill that would allow one New Orleans facility to keep its regional overnight delivery capability. If this bill passes, it would save nearly 260 mail-processing facilities across the nation.
New Orleans senators are pushing for the bill's passage, saying that it gives them "a fighting chance." Should the bill pass, the Postal Service would be forced to reconsider its service to lower-priority areas and rural areas. However, it would also delay the elimination of Saturday service for at least two years.
The government would need to give the USPS at least $11 billion, which NOLA online reports "is a refund of what sponsors [of the bill] say have been overpayments to a federal retirement fund."
The USPS has seen a growing deficit in recent years; last year alone the USPS posted a $1.3 billion loss. Officials have suggested stopping Saturday service in order to save $2-$3 billion per year.
Small businesses and individuals have spoken out against the plan to stop Saturday service and close facilities. Gloria Larkin of the Washington Post has written an editorial about the situation and summed up the argument being made by business operators.
"Closing postal facilities and eliminating Saturday service also effects us by increasing shipping costs for the product we sell as well as those we buy online. In order to serve our clients with quick order turnaround and speedy deliveries, we will adapt and use other services such as FedEx and UPS more often, but those costs are often two to three times higher," Larkin writes.
However, she notes, there is something to be said for adapting new attitudes toward mail delivery systems: "We need to learn from the past and not just complain about the changes. When cars replaced horses and carriages, the people who made buggy whips either went out of business or learned to manufacture new products or provide new services to reflect the changing needs of the market."