US senators urge Postal Service to pause delivery network consolidation

FILE PHOTO: A United States Postal Service mailbox is seen in Manhattan, New York City

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) -A bipartisan group of 26 senators on Wednesday urged the U.S. Postal Service to pause planned further consolidation to its processing and delivery network, warning it could slow mail deliveries.

The letter, seen by Reuters and led by Senator Gary Peters, who chairs the committee overseeing the USPS, urged a halt until the impacts are studied by the Postal Regulatory Commission. There has been mounting anger in Congress about changes that USPS has said are necessary to cut projected financial losses.

The letter, also signed by Republicans Susan Collins, Roger Wicker and Shelley Moore Capito and Democrats Jon Tester, Debbie Stabenow, Jeanne Shaheen and others, said the USPS is making "irrevocable changes to its processing and delivery network," including "moving mail processing further away from local communities, by transferring operations out of local facilities" into more distant hubs.

The plan cuts the number of truck trips and mail collections at USPS facilities, "causing mail to sit overnight in local offices," the letter added, "causing critical delays for mail that requires overnight delivery."

The USPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The USPS has been aggressively hiking stamp prices and is in the middle of a 10-year restructuring plan announced in 2021 that aims to eliminate $160 billion in predicted losses over the next decade. It previously forecast 2023 as a breakeven year.

The USPS in November reported a $6.5 billion net loss for the 12 months ending Sept. 30 as first-class mail fell to the lowest volume since 1968.

Last month, the Postal Service said it wants to raise the price of a first-class mail stamp to 73 cents from 68 cents, effective July 14.

In April 2022, President Joe Biden signed legislation providing the Postal Service with about $50 billion in financial relief over a decade.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)