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Debated Postal Service overhaul would modify delivery options, workers' benefits, pensions

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 7:15 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Members of a Senate committee said on Thursday that the Postal Service, which continues to struggle amid ongoing financial losses and mounting debt, needs to make substantial changes if it hopes to thrive in the digital age.

A day before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, the Postal Service said it would seek to raise postal rates by 5.9 percent — including increasing a first-class stamp to 49 cents from 46 cents — to cope with its financial difficulties.

Congress is considering legislation that would revamp the Postal Service's operations; if it passes, the proposed rate increase might be dropped. The chairman and the ranking member of the committee, Sens. Thomas Carper, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., introduced the Postal Reform Act of 2013 in August.

“Dr. Coburn and I believe that our bipartisan bill provides a road map to enable the Postal Service to return to profitability, not just in the near term, but to remain there in the long term,” Car-per said. “If that happens, the rate request will go away. If it doesn't happen, the rate request is there staring us and the Postal Service in the face.”

Among other things, the legislation would save the Postal Service money by modifying health care benefits and pensions for postal workers. It would change postal delivery options, including the eventual discontinuation of Saturday delivery. Other measures would require centralized or curbside delivery for new addresses and the option for existing addresses to convert from door delivery to centralized or curbside delivery.

The bill's provisions to possibly eliminate Saturday service and points of delivery would address losses often attributed to the rise of digital communication.

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