Senator urges dismissal of postal rate increase request

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US Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission August 9 calling for the oversight body to dismiss the US Postal Service's request to enact an “exigent price increase” next year.

Collins, an author of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, said in the letter that “neither the language nor the legislative history of the PAEA authorized the US Postal Service to file an exigent rate case under the current circumstances.”

Collins said the “extraordinary or exceptional circumstances” needed to enact such an increase include terrorist attacks or natural disasters, but not an economic slowdown.

“As the author of the exigent rate authority, I can attest that the provision was not intended to be used under the current circumstances,” she said in the letter. “Indeed the Postal Service's current financial condition is largely the result of its own failure to sufficiently update its business model to adapt to predictable and natural cyclical change in the economy and mail usage.”

Joanne Veto, senior manager of public relations and promotional communications at the USPS, said via e-mail that the organization is sticking with the rate change request.

“We stand behind our filing, which we believe is grounded in the law, and we're pleased the PRC is moving forward with hearings on our request,” she said.

The US Postal service unveiled details last month of its proposed price increases for 2011. Catalog mailers would see postage prices increase by 5.1% on average on January 2, 2011, if the rate changes are approved. Other direct mailers would see price hikes of about 5%, although companies that mail Standard Mail Parcels (packages weighing less than one pound) would get hit with a 23.3% price increase. The First Class stamp would go up 2 cents to 46 cents.

Last month, the Affordable Mail Alliance, a coalition of business mailers, and other groups called on the PRC to dismiss the rate change request. The USPS later asked the PRC, its oversight body, to throw out the group's request.

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