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If the House fails to act soon, postal officials say they will face a cash crunch in August and September, when the agency must pay more than $11 billion to the U.S. Treasury to prefund future retiree health benefits. Already $13 billion in debt, the health payment obligation will force the mail agency to run up against its $15 billion debt ceiling, causing it to default on the payments.

The agency’s second-quarter financial results will be released next week.

“If we can gain the flexibility to move quickly…, we can return to profitability,” Donahoe said. If not, “we risk becoming a permanent burden to the American taxpayer. “

The Postal Service, an independent agency of government, does not receive taxpayer money for its operations but borrows money from the Treasury to meet payment obligations. It is subject to congressional control on major aspects of its operations.