WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service agreed Tuesday to delay closing 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until mid May.
In a statement, the cash-strapped agency said it would hold off on closings several weeks to give Congress more time to pass legislation that would give it more authority and liquidity to stave off bankruptcy. The Postal Service, which is expected to default Friday on a $5.5 billion payment to the Treasury, is forecast to lose a record $14.1 billion next year.
Last week, the Postal Service said it was moving forward on cutbacks. It planned to begin closing processing centers as early as April, and shutter some post offices early next year.
The agreement by the Postal Service also means that cuts to first-class mail that would slow delivery and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day, would not occur before May 15. Previously, the post office said it hoped to implement the cuts to first-class service in April.
Last Thursday, 21 senators from mostly rural states led by Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, signed a letter to congressional leaders asking them to add language to legislation that would halt closings for six months. The closures could cost 100,000 postal employees their jobs.
The Postal Service, an independent agency of government, does not receive tax money, but it is subject to congressional control on major aspects of its operations.