Community newspapers ask Congress to support the Postal Service

Tonda Rush

Apr 30, 2020

Nearly 1,000 community newspapers added their voices to a letter to the 116th Congress: Save the Postal Service!

Amid the flurries of legislation to protect the U.S. economy from the coronavirus damage, Congress has been asked to recognize the needs of the Postal Service.  USPS has been in headlines in recent weeks as disagreements over its package services have arisen, but National Newspaper Association says most members of Congress agree that a viable universal postal delivery is essential to the economy.

“It is an election year, so editors expect to see vigorous debate about virtually everything, but it is unfortunate that the value of USPS has been caught up in political debate. Mail delivery is essential to the commerce of this country and even more so in rural areas,” NNA President Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, said. “After all our nation’s businesses have been through this year, the last thing we need is an interruption of the mail.  That affects invoices, checks in the mail, newspaper delivery and small parcels with essential items like medicines.”

NNA is a member of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, known as C21, a business organization that supports the mailing industry.  C21 has been active for more than a decade in urging Congress to shore up the public policy guiding universal service. C21’s letter to Congress, joined by newspapers in all 50 states, urged Congress to provide funding for USPS. The letter said:

‘We, along with the postal-reliant industry that generates $1.6 trillion in sales and employs 7.3 million workers, have long supported a self-sufficient Postal Service. But no business entity can withstand a 50% or more externally-imposed drop in business and revenues, as USPS projects due to COVID-19, and long survive.  That is why emergency funding must be provided now.”

Adelman said he expected some in Congress to call the funding a “bailout.”

“There are a lot of misunderstandings about USPS across the country and certainly in Congress.  Saying that providing an appropriation for USPS, which is a federal agency, is a ‘bailout’ is like saying making an appropriation to keep parks open is a ‘bailout.’ Both operate on user fees to a greater or lesser degree, but when the user fees — postage in this case — can’t keep up with the expenses, the responsibility for keeping the systems running falls to Congress. That is not a bailout. It is just common sense.   It is time for members of Congress to get on with its work in this area,” he said.

USPS has said it expects to run short of cash by the end of the year. Communities and businesses that depend upon it may see a slowing or interruption of mail service as the system struggles to stay afloat.