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Senate Majority Leader Reid slams postmaster general for plan to cut Saturday delivery

A day after announcing it would cut Saturday delivery service of most mailers, letters and catalogs, the U.S. Postal Service is getting more criticism from Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today said he questions the "legality" of the decision and charged that the postmaster general has made future postal reform even more difficult.

"Given the importance of the Post Office to communities in Nevada and across our nation, such a drastic policy change cannot be enacted without approval from Congress," Reid said in a statement. "Instead, the Postmaster General relied on flawed legal guidance to claim that he can circumvent Congress' authority on the matter. The Postmaster Generals' actions have damaged his reputation with Congressional leaders and further complicates Congressional efforts to pass comprehensive postal reform legislation in the future."

Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO of the Postal Service, said yesterday that the quasi-governmental agency is in no financial position to keep Saturday service. The Postal Service must finance its own operations -- without receiving tax dollars -- but it must also follow budget mandates passed by Congress. Last year, the Postal Service reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion and forecast more red ink in 2013.

Reid noted that "this unfortunate scenario could have been wholly prevented if the House had passed the Senate's bipartisan postal reform bill in the last Congress."

The Senate last year managed to pass a bipartisan bill that would have required the Postal Service to take other, aggressive cost-cutting measures for two years before resorting to five-day mail delivery. Senate leaders said yesterday they would make the legislation a top priority this year.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House Minority Whip, said in his own statement today that the Postal Service's announcement "underscores the need for the House to get serious about comprehensive reform that puts the U.S. Postal Service on a long-term, fiscally sustainable path."