’We must save it now’: New York reps demands funding to save the Postal Service
Neither snow, rain, heat nor gloom of night may stay the Postal Service from its appointed rounds, but lawmakers warned Thursday that coronavirus shut it down if Congress does not come up with a bailout soon.
The Postal Service has seen revenues plummet amid the pandemic, with mail volume down 30% compared to last year. It is forecasting a $13 billion shortfall by the end of September, and could run out of cash-on-hand sometime in June.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D) and Pete King (R) is asking the leaders of both chambers of Congress to make sure it doesn't get that far.
"Without immediate help from Congress and the Administration, the Postal Service -- a vital staple of American society since 1775 -- could cease to function by this summer," they write in a letter to the leaders, along with Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly and Nevada Republican Mark Amodei.
Democrats tried to add $25 billion to the $2.3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, but Senate Republicans rejected the request, lumping it in with other Democratic demands that they called a "left-wing wish list." The White House also opposed the Postal aid.
But the bipartisan group says sustaining the Postal Service is vital, delivering everything from mail-in ballots to medicine, at great cost to its workers.
"Many of them have in fact been exposed to Covid, and 40 of them tragically have died," said Connolly.
Maloney compared them to 9/11 responders. "I would say that the Postal Service is risking its life, as an essential service, going anywhere and everywhere and treating anyone who walks into their facility. And many of them have Covid," she said.
Although the Senate and the White House have spurned the Postal bailout so far, King predicted the House could force McConnell to act as more of the public grows concerned about the mail.
"I don't know if you can convince them by logic or reason -- you just have to do it by forcing votes, basically insist on it in negotiations, show that the American people are behind it, and use the leverage," Kind said. "I don't expect it to be easy. I don't expect to change Mitch McConnell's mind as to what he wants to do, but you put him in a position where he has to go along. This to me is part of hard bargaining."
They compare it in their letter to the $50 billion bailouts Congress gave the airline industry, which they said amounts to $110,000 for each of the 452,668 full-time employees.
The Postal Service employs 630,000 people.
The group says Congress needs to pass the initial $25 billion requested, plus tack on another $25 billion for “shovel-ready” modernization projects, and give the Postal Service $25 billion in unrestricted borrowing authority from Treasury Department.
“The Postal Service is an indispensable component of America’s critical infrastructure, and its workers are on the frontlines every single day delivering information and packages to the American people,” the lawmakers wrote. “We must save it now.”