Senator proposes delay to allow time to reform Postal Service
Thursday, December 8, 2011
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is asking Senate leaders to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from closing post offices and area mail processing facilities for at least six months, allowing more time for Congress to “enact reforms necessary” for the organization to succeed.
Tester has continually opposed the Postal Service’s plans to close numerous post offices and processing facilities across Montana. In a letter to be sent to Senate Leaders, Tester proposes adding a provision to an upcoming appropriations bill to prevent any closures for the next six months.
“We are concerned that the Postal Service may preempt Congress on this matter by closing or consolidating nearly 3,700 mostly rural post offices, over 250 mail processing facilities, and eliminating overnight delivery for first class mail before postal reform legislation is enacted,” Tester wrote.
In August, the Postal Service announced plans to close 85 Montana post offices, and more recently recommended consolidating mail processing facilities in Kalispell, Missoula, Helena, Butte, and Wolf Point. The Postal Service is struggling financially due to a 2006 law – passed before Tester was a member of the Senate – which set a formula for the pre-funding of employee health benefits. Tester says more time is needed to fix the 2006 law in a way that protects Montanans.
“While some of these changes may be needed, we believe that it is very important to give Congress the opportunity to reform the postal service in a way that protects universal service while ensuring its financial viability for decades to come,” Tester wrote.
A six-month freeze on closures will allow Congress time to examine the numerous proposals that seek to reform the Postal Service.
Tester, a member of the Senate committee that oversees the Postal Service, is a leading critic of plans to close postal facilities in Montana and across rural America.
Tester supported a bipartisan amendment to the 21st Century Postal Service Act that prevents the Postal Service from closing rural post offices until it establishes clear criteria for determining whether a post office should be closed.
Tester’s letter appears below.
Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Chairman Inouye, and Ranking Member Cochran:
Everyone understands that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is experiencing significant financial problems today and that changes need to be made as the USPS adjusts to a digital world.
To address this serious problem, Congress is in the midst of significantly reforming the postal service. Several bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House on this issue. On November 9th, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act, S.1789, by a vote of 9-1. The House is also moving forward with postal reform legislation.
While we may have very different views on how to financially improve the postal service, we all believe that democratically elected members of the Senate and the House have the responsibility to make significant changes to the postal service.
Unfortunately, we are concerned that the postal service may preempt Congress on this matter by closing or consolidating nearly 3,700 mostly rural post offices, over 250 mail processing facilities, and eliminating overnight delivery for first class mail before postal reform legislation is enacted. While some of these changes may be needed, we believe that it is very important to give Congress the opportunity to reform the postal service in a way that protects universal service while ensuring its financial viability for decades to come.
Therefore, we respectfully ask that you include language in the next appropriations to prevent the USPS from closing or consolidating area mail processing facilities or rural post offices for the next six months. This six month moratorium will give Congress the time needed to enact reforms necessary for the postal service to succeed in the 21st century.
We look forward to working with you on this important issue. Thank you for your consideration.
Jon Tester et al