WASHINGTONâ€”If Congress does not act quickly to reform the U.S. Postal Service, small-town America can expect a further slow-down of the mail, said Chip Hutcheson, publisher of The Times-Leader in Princeton, KY, when he testified to a U.S. Senate committee Jan. 21.
Hutcheson, president of the 130-year-old National Newspaper Association, told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that the closing of many mail processing plants by the troubled Postal Service over the last decade has already hurt mail service, which in turn damages local economies. He said a survey of his 2,300-member association of community newspapers indicated more than 92 percent said they have had recent problems getting newspapers through the mail on time. Nearly half report problems with First-Class or Priority Mail as well. NNA represents community newspapers, including more than 2,000 weeklies that largely depend upon mail distribution to reach readers.
Congress has been trying since 2008 to reach agreement on legislation to help the Postal Service address falling mail volumes, but still serve every household in America. Postmaster General Megan Brennan testified that the Postal Service had incurred $56.8 billion in net losses since 2007.
The testimony was offered by NNA in a hearing called by Committee Chair Ron Johnson, R-WI, entitled â€œLaying Out the Reality Of the Postal Service.â€ Johnson and his committee are being asked by a coalition of businesses that use the mail and of postal workers to prevent further mail cutbacks.
Sen. Thomas Carper, D-DE, has introduced the Improving Postal Operations, Service and Transparency (iPOST) Act, to prompt action on Capitol Hill. Hutcheson told the committee the bill could serve as a foundation for congressional action this year, but urged Congress to act before April, when USPS finances are expected to worsen by $1 billion because of a court-ordered postage rollback.
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