The U.S. Postal Service is warning that it will likely default on up to $6.9 billion in payments for future retiree health benefits for the fifth straight year. It is citing a coming cash crunch that could disrupt day-to-day mail delivery.

The post office says it expects cash balances to run low by October. Postmaster General Megan Brennan stressed an urgent need for federal regulators to grant the Postal Service wide freedom to increase stamp prices to cover costs. She points to continuing red ink due to declining first-class mail volume and the expensive mandates for retiree benefits.

The Postal Service on Thursday reported a quarterly loss of $2.1 billion, compared to a $1.6 billion loss in the same period last year. That came despite double-digit growth in package delivery.

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