The U.S. Postal Service’s regulator has approved price increases amounting to 6 percent on most mail, a step the service’s board called a “last resort” forced by Congress’ failure to pass cost-cutting legislation.

A first-class stamp will cost 49 cents, up from 46 cents, starting Jan. 26.

Similar changes will apply to magazines, bills, and advertising mail. The increases of 4.3 percent approved Tuesday are on top of the 1.7 percent, an amount equal to inflation, approved last month.

The Postal Regulatory Commission, in a 2-1 vote, rejected a Postal Service request to make the higher rates permanent, saying they will probably need to end in less than two years. The increase is designed to boost revenue by $1.8 billion a year to make up for losses during the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, the order says.

“The Postal Service is disappointed in the Postal Regulatory Commission’s split decision to limit the duration of a modest exigent rate increase,” Roy Betts, a postal service spokesman, said in an email.

The Postal Service, which is supposed to fund its operations through postage sales, can’t increase prices by more than the inflation rate without the regulator’s blessing.

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