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The postmaster general's announcement that, as of August, the Postal Service will stop delivering first class mail but continue delivering packages on Saturdays was basically a dare to Congress: You don't like it? Stop me. And it looks like it may have been a safe bet, because while many members of Congress are angry about the move, congressional dysfunction makes it unlikely they'll actually do anything to keep bills and magazines and Netflix DVDs reaching our houses on Saturdays.

The postmaster general's unilateral action raises a number of issues. It's not just whether limited Saturday delivery is the right way to go, but whether this move requires (or should require) congressional approval. On both points, but especially the latter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was not happy, saying that "The postmaster general’s actions have damaged his reputation with congressional leaders and further complicates congressional efforts to pass comprehensive postal reform legislation in the future." Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins was similarly critical of the move, questioning both its adherence to the law and the damage that might be done to postal business by cutting services.

But nonetheless, the chances Congress will do anything about it are low. For one thing, some members of Congress, like California Republican Darrell Issa, think it's just great. For another thing, this is Congress. It's broken.

Last year, the House and Senate produced competing bills to help staunch the Postal Service’s financial losses. The Senate approved legislation that would have delayed five-day mail delivery for two years while trying out other cost-saving tactics, but the House never voted on the measure. A House bill that would have ended Saturday delivery right away never reached the floor.

House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said he had no idea what his committee would do about the postal plan.

Making cuts is, of course, the only thing that gets real attention, despite the efforts of senators like Bernie Sanders and Mary Landrieu to broaden the debate somewhat to how the Postal Service could be successful by expanding its offerings. Too many of their colleagues, though, object to that idea, because while the austeritarians think the post office should be required to be profitable like a business, they don't want it competing with actual businesses that have lobbyists and give campaign contributions. That range of views on what should happen to the Postal Service in the long run, combined with your general everyday congressional dysfunction, mean that however much Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe may have "damaged his reputation with congressional leaders," he's unlikely to face legislative action keeping Saturday first class mail going. Which means 22,500 jobs disappearing from the American economy.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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