Update: It may not be a done deal. Not all lawmakers agreed that Postmaster General Donahoe could order an end to Saturday mail delivery without the approval of Congress. (See: No Saturday Mail is Postmaster's Big Gamble)
You knew it was coming, and today the financially failing U.S. Postal Service (USPS) officially announced it will stop home delivery of mail on Saturdays, while continuing and promoting its six-day-a-week package delivery service.
According to its press statement, the USPS will halt Saturday mail delivery effective August 5, in a move postal officials say will save about $2 billion a year.
Package delivery service, which the USPS says has increased by 14% since 2010 and been one of the agency's few money-makers will continue to follow its current six-day-a-week schedule.
"Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide and maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages is an important part of that platform," said postmaster general and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe in a press release. "As consumers increasingly use and rely on delivery services -- especially due to the rise of e-commerce -- we can play an increasingly vital role as a delivery provider of choice, and as a driver of growth opportunities for America's businesses."
In addition, mail will still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays and Post Offices now open on Saturdays will remain open.
Also See: Mail Delivery Just 3 Days a Week?
Americans are more than okay with this, too, according to postmaster general and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe, who stated that Postal Service market research revealed that nearly 70% of Americans supported five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to save money.
"The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation," said Donahoe. "The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail."
But, What About Congress?
Can't Congress stop the USPS from stopping Saturday mail delivery? In fact, it has done so several times since 1957. Under the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the USPS functions an independent, quasi-federal agency. Much like a private sector business, all of the USPS' operations are to be supported by the sale of its products - postage and other "postal products," as authorized by Congress.
Like most private sector businesses, the USPS receives no tax dollars to fund its operations. However, unlike most private sector businesses, the USPS pays no federal, state or local taxes. While the USPS receives no annual funding from Congress, lawmakers have long argued that any USPS operational changes - including delivery schedules - require their approval.
In its press material announcing the end of Saturday mail, the Postal Service did not direttly address the issue of Congressional approval.
"While the change in the delivery schedule announced today is one of the actions needed to restore the financial health of the Postal Service, legislative change is urgently needed to address matters outside the Postal Service's control," stated the USPS. "The Postal Service continues to seek legislation to provide it with greater flexibility to control costs and generate new revenue and encourages the 113th Congress to make postal reform legislation an urgent priority."