WASHINGTON - Saturday mail delivery would be ended in a year and the Postal Service could start shipping alcoholic beverages under a plan offered Friday by two key senators seeking to turn around the struggling agency's finances.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper of Delaware and the panel's ranking Republican, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, said they hope Congress can act quickly to help the agency.
The Postal Service lost $16 billion last year, $11 billion of it in payments to its health fund for future retirees.
The Senate plan includes changes in how pensions and retiree health care costs are calculated in an attempt to stabilize the agency's finances. It also would impose a two-year moratorium on closing mail processing plants.
Door-to-door service for new residential and business addresses would cease as the Postal Service seeks to shift to less costly curbside and cluster box delivery. The measure would require the Postal Service to try to convert residential addresses on a voluntary basis from door-to-door delivery to curbside and cluster box delivery.
A House bill by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the oversight and government reform panel, would end Saturday delivery and phase out door-to-door service over 10 years. It also would change how pension and retiree health costs are calculated to bolster the agency's budget.
Postal unions oppose shifting to five-day mail delivery.
The Postal Service has been seeking legislation that would allow it to eliminate Saturday mail delivery and to reduce its congressionally mandated $5 billion annual payment for future retiree health benefits. It missed two of those $5 billion payments last year and is expected to miss another at the end of September.