WASHINGTON – The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday agreed to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until mid-May.
In a statement, the cash-strapped agency said it would hold off on closings by several weeks to give Congress more time to pass legislation that would give it more authority and liquidity to stave off bankruptcy. The Postal Service, which is expected to default Friday on a $5.5 billion payment to the Treasury, is forecast to lose a record $14.1 billion next year.
Last week, the Postal Service said it was moving forward on cutbacks. It had planned to begin closing processing centers as early as April and shutter some post offices early next year.
“There continues to be extreme urgency, and our financial crisis continues,” said postal spokesman David Partenheimer. “But we’re hoping by working with senators and all members of Congress that they can pass comprehensive legislation that allows the Postal Service to return to profitability.”
The agreement by the Postal Service also means that cuts to first-class mail that would slow delivery and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day, would not occur before May 15. Previously, the post office said it had hoped to implement the cuts to first-class service in April.
Last Thursday, a group of 21 senators from mostly rural states led by Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, signed a letter to congressional leaders asking them to add language to legislation that would halt closings for six months.