WASHINGTON — Door-to-door mail delivery is about as American as apple pie. With the Postal Service facing billions of dollars in annual losses, that tradition could be virtually phased out by 2022 under a proposal in Congress.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday approved a plan to move to cluster box and curbside delivery, which includes mailboxes at the end of driveways.
The proposal is part of broader legislation by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the oversight and government reform panel, designed to cut costs at the cash-strapped agency by up to $4.5 billion a year. The Postal Service had a $16 billion loss last year.
The bill was approved on a party-line vote, with 22 Republicans supporting it and 17 Democrats opposing it.
Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency would evaluate Issa's bill based on whether it would enable the agency to make $20 billion in savings by 2017.
"The Postal Service looks forward to working with Chairman Issa and the committee to improve the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process," Partenheimer said.
The agency has been moving toward curbside and cluster box delivery in new residential developments since the 1970s. The Postal Service in April began deciding whether to provide such delivery for people moving into newly built homes rather than letting the developers decide.
"A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America's changing use of mail," Issa said. "Done right, these reforms can improve the customer experience through a more efficient Postal Service."
About 1 in 3 mail customers has door-to-door delivery, Issa said. The shift would include safe and secure cluster box delivery areas, he said, especially for elderly customers who receive Social Security checks and prescriptions through the mail.