6:35 AM PST, February 7, 2013
UNDATED - The U.S. Postal Service isn't waiting any longer for permission from Congress to quit delivering mail on Saturdays.
It says it's going ahead with plans to start five-day-a-week delivery in August. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the agency's financial condition is urgent, and the change will save about $2 billion a year.
Under the plan, letters would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday. Mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays, and post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open. Packages would also still be delivered on Saturday's.
Representative Kristi Noem and Senator Tim Johnson say they are "disappointed" with the plan.
Johnson said in a press release Wednesday that he had hoped the elimination of Saturday mail delivery would be a last resort option.
"I am disappointed with the Postal Service's decision to end Saturday delivery. Last spring, the Senate passed a bipartisan postal reform bill that would have addressed the Postal Service's current budget shortfalls and prohibited the agency from eliminating Saturday delivery for at least two years while alternative cost savings are implemented. Unfortunately, the bill was never brought up for a vote in the House, and this inaction prevented postal reform fro moving forward."
Noem, in a statement, said she believes the Postal Service needs to focus on making additional internal and structural reforms before it cuts services.
"I understand that serious changes need to be made," Noem said, "but I do not support eliminating Saturday delivery. Coming from a rural state, our postal service is critical to the way families and businesses operate."
The postal service has already begun closing some small rural post offices across the region. The Ralph Post Office closed in January.