WASHINGTON The Postal Service on Thursday received another setback in its attempts to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, said in a legal opinion that the post office did not have the authority to make the change without congressional approval, based on a spending measure passed by Congress last year.
The opinion was issued on the same day the House sent the president a spending measure that also required the post office to maintain Saturday delivery. That measure keeps the government operating through Sept. 30.
In a statement, the Postal Service said it disagreed with the accountability office.
"The opinion does not address the Postal Service's proposal to move to five-day mail delivery, with six-day package delivery, during the week of Aug. 5," said David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the agency. In response to the spending resolution approved Thursday, Partenheimer said, "Once the delivery schedule language in the continuing resolution becomes law, we will discuss it with our board of governors to determine our next steps."
The opinion was requested by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., who has been critical of the post office's plan.
The post office has struggled as mail volume has declined. Its financial woes it lost $15.9 billion last year have also been exacerbated by a 2006 law that requires it to pay $5.5 billion a year into a health fund for future retirees.