WASHINGTON — Ravaged by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Postal Service appealed to lawmakers on Thursday for an $89 billion lifeline, telling them that it could run out of cash by the end of September if Congress fails to act.
But as Washington begins to debate the next round of government relief to prop up the virus-plagued economy, a Postal Service bailout has already emerged as a political sticking point, with Democrats pressing to deliver one and President Trump, a persistent critic of the agency, opposed. The debate appears to be playing out along the same fault lines that have divided the two sides for years as they have quibbled over how to position the cash-strapped agency — one of the government’s oldest and most reliable entities — for an increasingly digital future.
The coronavirus crisis has rapidly exacerbated those woes, officials told lawmakers on Thursday. Mail volume is down by nearly a third compared with the same time last year and dropping quickly, as businesses drastically cut back on solicitations, advertisements and all kinds of letters that make up the bulk of the mail service’s bottom line.