Postal workers protest Senate bill from Medill Washington on Vimeo.

WASHINGTON – Postal Service workers protested outside lawmakers’ offices across the country Thursday, calling for “no” votes on a postal reform bill that could stop Saturday delivery and end door-to-door mail delivery. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon after Congress comes back in session next week.

The Postal Service continues to lose money. The USPS says it could face an annual loss of $21.3 billion by 2016 and accumulate a total debt of $92 billion by 2016.

In 1971, the Postal Service transitioned from a federal department to an independent agency of the government, which does not directly accept taxpayer dollars. It’s currently borrowing from the Treasury to cover its mounting losses.

Before next week, learn where postal reform stands now and what will change if a reform law is passed:

Q: What is postal reform?
A: Reform comes in the form of two bills. The Senate bill, S. 1789, is called the “21st Century Postal Service Act of 2011.” The House of Representatives bill, H.R. 2309, is called the “Postal Reform Act of 2011.” Both aim to improve and restore the financial standing of the U.S. Postal Service.

Q: If Congress passes the postal reform bills, what’s going to happen?
A: According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the Senate reform bill becomes law, it would:

  • End Saturday delivery
  • Transfer about $11 billion in surplus retirement contributions from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund to the Postal Service Fund
  • Change what the Postal Service has to pay into the retiree health benefits fund
  • Allow the USPS to offer employees incentives to retire
  • Reduce the USPS’ payments to most federal workers receiving benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act

If Congress passes the House reform bill, it would:

  • End Saturday delivery
  • Transfer about $11 billion in surplus retirement contributions from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund to the Postal Service Fund
  • Reduce the amount the USPS has to pay into the retiree health benefits fund
  • Reduce the amount the USPS has to pay for employees’ health and life insurance premiums
  • Stop payments to the USPS for free and reduced rate mail

Q: Where can I read the bills?
A: Read the full text of the Senate bill here: Read the full text of the House bill here:

Q: Is postal reform necessary?
A: The short answer is yes. The USPS says it will continue to lose $25 million per day until (and unless) major changes take place. At the end of fiscal year 2011, the USPS reported a net loss of $5.1 billion. The loss would have been more than double if Congress didn’t pass a law allowing the USPS to delay a mandated payment of $5.5 billion to prefund retiree health benefits.

No other agency in the country is required to prefund retiree health benefits – and that has been a sticking point with the USPS.

Q: What is the USPS doing to cut costs?
A: It is restructuring its management of healthcare costs and pushing for laws that will allow it to reform its business model. The USPS is working with Congress to reduce annual costs by $22.5 billion by 2016. It wants Congress to pass laws that will allow it to 1) take back $11 billion in overfunding from its retirement fund and 2) eliminate Saturday delivery.

Q: I’m a USPS employee. Will I lose my job?
A: The USPS will be closing or consolidating processing centers, which means people will lose jobs. The closures and consolidations will affect clerks, mail handlers, mechanics, car drivers, custodians, maintenance employees, supervisors, managers and other administrators.

The USPS has plans to consolidate or is looking into consolidating these processing centers:

Q: Is the processing center near me going to close?
A: The USPS has a list of facility closures that is updated daily:

Q: When will processing centers start closing?
A: The USPS has said it will not close any processing centers before May 15, 2012.

Q: How much money is postal reform expected to save?
A: The Congressional Budget Office estimates the House bill would save about $20 billion by 2022. It estimates the Senate bill, if it becomes law, would actually cost $6.3 billion during that same period because lowering health care expenses would cause the USPS to cut spending less aggressively than it would without the legislation.

Q: What happens next?
A: Congress will be back in session on Monday. The Senate is widely expected to vote on its postal reform bill soon after returning.

Q: Is the Postal Service funded with taxpayers’ money?
A: No. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. It covers its costs by selling stamps, products and services.

Q: Who are the lawmakers pushing for postal reform, and how can I contact them?
A: Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is the main sponsor of the Senate postal reform bill. Email him at Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is the main sponsor of the House bill. Email him at