Potter Presses House Members for Funding

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Postmaster General John E. Potter urged a House of Representatives subcommittee yesterday to include funding for postal appropriations not in President Bush's 2005 fiscal year federal budget.

"The failure to receive these funds may require the postal service to treat these remaining payments, which amount to nearly $900 million, as a bad debt, significantly increasing our costs," Potter said in testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations, subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and independent agencies.

The largest expense is $779 million for emergency preparedness. The money would help the U.S. Postal Service buy and install systems to detect biological agents and poisons, and new ventilation and filtration systems, in 282 mail-handling centers nationwide.

Potter sent a letter to committee member Rep. John W. Olver, D-MA, stressing the importance of the emergency-preparedness funding.

The USPS has developed the new detection and filtration systems, and test installations are under way in Baltimore and Cleveland. The current systems are designed to test for anthrax, but improvements are being made to test for other likely materials, Potter said.

The postal service already has signed contracts for more than $300 million of the requested money. If funding is not approved, Potter said, it would affect planning for future postal rate increases.

Potter also said that the agency is due $29 million as part of the Revenue Forgone Act of 1993, which allocates $29 million annually to the USPS through 2035.

"In an unusual departure from past presidential budget submissions, the 2005 budget is silent on this statutory reimbursement," he said.

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