US House Democrats urge Biden to name new U.S. Postal board members

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 80 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to nominate two candidates to open seats on the U.S. Postal Board of Governors, complaining about slow deliveries and increased costs.

The letter, led by Representative Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the committee overseeing the Postal Service, noted there have been five stamp price hikes since 2020, including the latest increase on Jan. 21 that boosted prices to 68 cents from 66 cents.

The letter, first reported by Reuters, urged Biden to "choose two candidates who will be wholly committed to lowering costs for everyday Americans." Two governors' terms on the board expired in December.

USPS in November reported a $6.5 billion net loss for the 12 months ending Sept. 30 and said it will not break even in 2024 as first-class mail fell to the lowest volume since 1968.

"Unfortunately, the Postal Service currently suffers from slow rates of delivery service and increased costs," said the letter.

Other signatories include Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rosa DeLauro, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Gerald Connolly and Maxine Waters.

"The actions of current postal leadership are deeply concerning. Rather than exploring new sources of revenue, it has continued price increases to 'uncomfortable rates' around the country," it said, citing earlier comments on price hikes from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

In a Jan. 10 letter, DeJoy cited USPS's losses and said the postal service must keep cutting costs or "we will run out of cash, therefore making our financial condition, again, a problem for the Congress to address."

USPS has been aggressively hiking stamp prices and is in the middle of a 10-year restructuring plan that aims to eliminate $160 billion in predicted losses over the next decade.

A White House official said the administration "will consult with Congress to fill the two vacant seats, as we have done for all board nominees to date."

USPS said it welcomes new governors who bring "diverse insights, unique perspectives, leadership and professional experiences to help inform our decision making."

In April 2022, Biden signed legislation providing USPS with about $50 billion in financial relief over a decade.

First-class mail volume fell 6.1% in 2023 to 46 billion pieces and is down 53% since 2006, but revenue increased by $515 million because of higher stamp prices.

Stamp prices are up 36% since early 2019. First-class mail, used by most people to send letters and pay bills, is the highest revenue-generating mail class, accounting for $24.5 billion, or 31% of USPS 2023 revenue.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Ljunggren, Nick Zieminski and Deepa Babington)