Postal Service might start shipping wine and beer

Monday, April 30th, 2012 By

USPS Delivery truck

A Senate bill might allow the United States Postal Service to deliver wine and beer, but it doesn't seem likely to pass the House. Photo Credit: Michael Hicks/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

A bill before Congress, aimed at helping the struggling United States Postal Service regain solid financial footing, is taking a page from Starbucks’ playbook. Among other proposals, Congress may authorize the USPS to ship wine and beer.

Congress tries to stamp out postal service woes

The United States Postal Service is in serious financial trouble. Any changes to the agency’s structure have to be approved by Congress, where a bill that could help save the USPS is currently being considered, according to the Washington Post. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday, April 25, and is currently going before the House of Representatives, where it could encounter much more resistance.

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The bill allows the Postal Service to make changes that could put it on the right financial footing. Among the changes are an $11 billion loan to the USPS so the agency can buy out older employees and offer incentives for early retirement. The bill also authorizes the USPS to end Saturday delivery two years after the bill passes but only if the USPS conducts a feasibility study to prove ending Saturday delivery would achieve the desired effects.

However, one proposal could make some people very happy.

Merlot by mail

One of the proposals included in the bill, according to Time magazine, is that the USPS will be authorized to deliver wine and beer through the mail, which private mail carriers like FedEx and UPS have been doing for years.

The postal service reform bill would repeal a law that has been part of the governing statutes of the USPS since 1909, which prohibited the national mail service from delivering poisonous or other harmful materials along with “intoxicating beverages of any kind.” The law was a product of the Temperance movement, which later resulted in the passage of Prohibition, the subsequent lamentations of millions and of course the enrichment of Al Capone.

A concern exists for underage drinkers being able to get their goods through the USPS, but Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe suggests a signature from an adult of legal age should be required in order to deliver the goods. Residents of certain states would not be eligible for delivery, as some states forbid out-of-state beer or wine being shipped there.

Steep climb

Though the Senate may have passed the bill, according to CNN, there is still a great deal of opposition in the House. Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.), who sponsored a House bill to reform the USPS, called the Senate bill “wholly unacceptable.” The Postal Service Board of Governors also asserts the Senate bill is inadequate.

House Republicans are generally irked at the Senate bill not allowing for more immediate necessary cuts, including the two-year waiting period for ceasing Saturday delivery. Issa, according to the Washington Post, noted the Senate bill doesn’t allow for unnecessary and unprofitable centers to be closed immediately, which adds up to $900 million in annual operating costs.

Sources

Washington Post

Time

CNN

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