North Dakota delegation questions postal plan

The U.S. Postal Service’s plan to halt Saturday mail delivery could come to its own halt if Congress puts the brake on the idea, according to the office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Hoeven had previously supported bipartisan legislation in the Senate to require the Postal Service to maintain six-day delivery while working to explore other cost savings. The bill never advanced to become law, but Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said that the senator hopes to see similar legislation re-introduced and passed by both houses before August, when the Postal Service looks to end Saturday delivery.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., serves on the committee that oversees the Postal Service. She said she looks forward to questioning the postmaster general.

“A quality, reliable postal service is essential for North Dakotans. From seniors to small business owners, the United States Postal Service improves the quality of life for folks in our state,” Heitkamp said. “The USPS does have serious problems with its finances that need to be addressed, but rural states should not be disproportionately affected by these decisions.”

The North Dakota Newspaper Association has contacted the congressional delegation to voice its concern.

“It appears that this is going to take some congressional action,” executive director Roger Bailey in Bismarck said. “We hope that they will stand behind the people of North Dakota.”

Bailey said the state’s daily newspapers and a number of weekly newspapers that publish on Fridays would be directly impacted, but a broader concern is the effect of a potential backlog of mail service due to the skipped delivery day. The backlog problem would come on top of delivery delays that some newspapers already are experiencing with the Postal Service, he said.