Democrats Urge Postal Regulatory Commission to Block USPS Proposed Price Hikes
Democrats Urge Postal Regulatory Commission to Block USPS Proposed Price Hikes

By Aldgra Fredly

House Democrats are urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to block the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) price hikes, noting they would risk the agency’s future as its delivery performance has hit “historic lows.”

The USPS said last month that it was planning to raise the price of first-class stamps by 5 cents—from 68 cents to 73 cents—as part of proposed adjustments to raise mailing services product prices by 7.8 percent.

The postal agency cited the ongoing “changes in the mailing and shipping marketplace” as the reason for the need to raise postage prices, but added that its prices remain “among the most affordable in the world.”

The price hike, if approved by the regulatory commission, would take effect in July. This would mark the second price hike this year and the sixth since March 2021.

Stamp prices already increased in January, following hikes in July 2023, January 2023, and July 2022. The USPS also cited uncertain economic conditions and inflationary pressures as reasons for the hikes.

Several House Democrats—Reps. Jamie Raskin, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Gerald Connolly, and Kweisi Mfume—urged the regulatory commission to reject the proposal, citing the mailing agency’s failure to meet its delivery performance standards.

“This rate hike, if implemented, comes at a time when postal delivery performance is experiencing historic lows,” the lawmakers said in a May 23 letter.

“We believe that this trajectory is setting the Postal Service on a course that threatens its future as an effective, efficient, and vital American institution,” they added.

They cited data released by the regulatory commission indicating that the USPS failed to meet its target for more than half of its market-dominant products in fiscal year 2023.

The agency’s overall mail volume has continuously declined since Postmaster General DeJoy entered office in 2020, falling from 129.17 billion units in 2020 to 116.15 billion units in 2023. The USPS also reported a $6.5 billion net loss for fiscal year 2023, the letter stated.

“We are concerned with the extent to which the pace of these postage price changes may contribute to volume declines in excess of earlier projections on total mail volume,” the Democrats stated.

“It is imperative that the Postal Service meet its service delivery standards, curb excessive mail volume declines, and prevent the Postal Service from entering unrecoverable financial peril, or else put at risk the livelihood of the millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service for their medication, social security checks, mail-in ballots, and veterans’ benefits,” they added.

USPS Urged to Halt Operational Changes

Earlier this month, a group of 26 bipartisan senators sent a letter to the USPS calling the agency to halt operational changes until the modifications are reviewed by the regulatory commission.

In the May 8 letter to the Postmaster General and Board of Governors of the USPS, the senators said the postal agency was moving too swiftly forward and making “irrevocable changes” that have resulted in negative user experiences for communities relying on the postal network.

The first issue the senators noted was that the USPS aims to move mail processing further away from local communities, and were transferring operations out of local facilities to more distant hubs.

This “particularly harm[s] local mail,” they noted, as packages would need to travel farther distances, often in another state.

Secondly, the USPS plans on cutting the number of truck trips and mail collection at its facilities in an initiative called “local transportation optimization.” This results in mail sitting at local offices overnight.

“USPS has begun to implement this change without notifying the public, causing critical delays for mail that requires overnight delivery,” the letter said. “In some rural communities, it has eliminated the possibility of overnight delivery for critical mail like medications and laboratory tests.”

The senators expressed concern about the ongoing societal impacts these policies have had so far as well as detrimental effects that could happen in the future.

Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.

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