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Congress Has a Constitutional Duty to Preserve and Promote the Post Office

By       Message John Nichols     Permalink
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Source: The Nation

A local post office in Markham, Virginia. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

No members of Congress who take seriously their oath sworn to uphold the Constitution can neglect the duty to preserve the United States Postal Service.

The founding document is clear. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 gives Congress the power and the responsibility: "To establish Post Offices and post Roads."

To say that Congress has shirked its duty in recent years would be an understatement of colossal proportions. The Republican-controlled House and Senate, working with former President George W. Bush, manufactured a crisis for the postal service in 2006 when they required the USPS to prefund its future healthcare benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years. That's something no major corporation could or would do, as it required the service to divert more than $5 billion annually to prepay the health benefits of retirees who have not yet been hired.

The absurdity of the circumstance created by those requirements, as well as the absurdity of the restrictions that remain on the ability of the USPS to compete, must be addressed by Congress.

Congress has backed a continuing resolution that pushes back against the current push to end Saturday delivery, potentially staving off what the National Association of Letter Carriers describes as "a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers." 

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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