Postal Service seeks $5-billion in government aid

The U.S. Postal Service told Congress today that the September 11 terrorist attacks and anthrax-tainted letters that appeared last month have cost the agency $5 billion dollars. Postmaster General John Potter said the service needed an immediate $2 billion to cover lost revenues and saw at least $3 billion in costs for cleaning up anthrax spores, purchasing mail-sanitizing equipment and instituting

The U.S. Postal Service told Congress today that the September 11 terrorist attacks and anthrax-tainted letters that appeared last month have cost the agency $5 billion dollars.

Postmaster General John Potter said the service needed an immediate $2 billion to cover lost revenues and saw at least $3 billion in costs for cleaning up anthrax spores, purchasing mail-sanitizing equipment and instituting other preventive measures, and said the government, not the customers, should help cover that bill.

"The attacks that began on September 11 were acts of war. They have resulted in costs and business impacts that simply could not have been anticipated," Potter told a Senate appropriations subcommittee. "We urge Congress to recognize that emergency funding is required as part of the effort in defending homeland security."

Before the attacks, the Postal Service had estimated it would lose $1.35 billion in its 2002 fiscal year, and had applied for a three-cent increase in the price of a regular stamp.

Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan added that the post office will not have a firm handle on how much money it needs until after January 1.

"Extraordinary expenditures will be required," Robert Rider, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, said this week. "We strongly believe these costs should not be borne by our customers through increased rates."

Several lawmakers have said they want to include aid for the Postal Service as part of a new $20 billion package of spending related to terrorism. President Bush said Tuesday, however, he would veto any spending beyond the $40 billion Congress appropriated after the September 11 attacks but before the outbreak of mailed anthrax.

Mail-related industries ranging from catalog sales to greeting cards to film developing employ 9-million Americans and contribute $900 billion to the national economy annually, Potter said.

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