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US Postal Service warns Congress it could become insolvent amid coronavirus

USPS file photo
USPS file photo (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The US Postal Service is giving Congress a dire warning, telling lawmakers that the agency will “run out of cash” by the end of September if Congress does not step in with financial assistance.

According to Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, Postmaster General Megan Brennan warned lawmakers that in light of the global pandemic, the Postal Service believes they will see a “$13 billion revenue loss” this year with projections that coronavirus could cost the agency another $54 billion over the next decade.

"The Postal Service was technically insolvent to begin with, but the pandemic has completely changed the environment here. The mail volume drop is catastrophic," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat and the chairman of the oversight subcommittee that oversees the USPS.

The threat to the US mail system caused by coronavirus and the resulting economic downturn has prompted the Postal Service to ask Congress for a $75 billion boost to help keep it afloat as hundreds of thousands of mail carriers and postal workers continue working during the pandemic. House Democrats say the postal service is asking for $25 billion in direct funding, another $25 billion in "unrestricted borrowing authority from Treasury" and $25 billion in grants to help "modernize" the post office.

"The Postal Service is holding on for dear life, and unless Congress and the White House provide meaningful relief in the next stimulus bill, the Postal Service could cease to exist," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee said in a statement.

Representatives of the American Postal Workers Union support the bill. Dorris Orr-Richardson, who represents postal workers in Florida, said the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which gives employees leave protection for their jobs and allows them to still get paid while they self-quarantine or stay at home with a COVID-19 positive child, is breaking the bank.

“We didn’t budget for that. Our employees are getting sick as well," Orr-Richardson told News4Jax. “If we’re including in a stimulus package, our workers will be able to take care of their families, get well, come back to work so that we can serve the public.”

Orr-Richardson said the USPS is also losing money as a result of the decline in advertisement revenue, which she said is the result of coronavirus.

“Large mailers and other companies are not mailing," she said. "If Congress enacts legislation that provides stimulus to the postal service, we will be viable into the future.”

The US Postal Service, unlike private mail carriers, is required to deliver goods to every corner of the country including rural communities where the profit margins are slim.

Postal workers are among those — like medical professionals, first responders and grocers — who have expressed alarm about keeping an adequate supply of protective medical gear such as face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer as they work during the pandemic.


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