The financially beleaguered Postal Service, an independent agency, gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, but is subject to congressional control.
The Postal Service is pursuing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by about $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations.
The service's losses are largely due to a decline in mail volume and a congressional requirement that it make advance payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. About $11.1 billion of last year's losses were due to payments for future retiree health costs.
The volume of mail handled by the Postal Service has decreased steadily as the popularity of email, Facebook and other electronic services has grown. Total mail volume handled by the agency fell to 160 billion pieces last year from its all-time high, 213.1 billion in 2006. Revenue fell to $65.2 billion last budget year, from a high of $74.9 billion in 2008.
The Postal Service is considering several options to fix its finances, including negotiations with unions to reduce labor costs and another possible increase in prices.
The service earlier this year backpedaled on its plan to end Saturday mail delivery after running into opposition in Congress. It has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully over the past several years to persuade Congress to approve ending Saturday mail delivery and to free the service from the advance health payments. Issa's bill would end Saturday mail delivery, but keep six-day package delivery.
The Senate last year passed a bill that would have stopped the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and required it to try two years of aggressive cost cutting instead. The House didn't pass a bill.