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Senators Call on Postmaster General to Extend Closure Moratorium So House Can Consider Senate-Passed Plan to Protect Rural Offices

BAUCUS, TESTER URGE ACTION ON POSTAL REFORM AS MAY 15 DEADLINE APPROACHES
Senators Call on Postmaster General to Extend Closure Moratorium So House Can Consider Senate-Passed Plan to Protect Rural Offices

May 3, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are urging (PDF) the U.S. Postmaster General to extend the current moratorium on closing post offices beyond the May 15 deadline, so that the House of Representatives can consider the Senate-passed reform bill. Baucus and Tester included protections to keep rural facilities open in the Senate bill, but without action in the House, the Postal Service will be free to shut down any of the 85 Montana offices it has proposed for closure after May 15.

“Montanans who rely on the their post offices for life-saving medications, business operations and voting deserve the protections we passed in this bill, and I hope the House will take it up and pass it soon,” Baucus said. “We know the Postal Service has serious budget problems, but we also know that closing down rural Post Offices won’t even come close to solving them, so this bill takes a commonsense approach to put the Postal service back on the road to financial stability while also protecting Montana jobs and service standards.”

“This bipartisan bill gives the Postal Service the breathing room it needs to meet its financial obligations, while preserving efficient mail delivery and protecting rural post offices,” Tester said. “The House needs to quickly follow our lead to protect mail service in Montana. But until it acts, the Postal Service should leave Montana’s rural post offices open.”

The Postmaster General has stated that in order to become financially stable, the Postal Service must reduce spending by about $20 billion in the coming years. The Senate bill puts the Postal Service well on the path toward stability by reducing spending by $19 billion by 2016, according to analysis provided by the Postal Service. Closing all 3,700 post offices nationwide is only estimated to save $240 million and closing all 85 of the Montana post offices proposed is only projected to save about $4.7 million annually.

Baucus and Tester secured amendments in the Senate bill that specifically protect rural post offices and processing facilities including:

  • A one-year moratorium on the closure of rural post offices;
  • Prohibition of closing any post office where another facility is not available within 10 miles driving distance, after the moratorium expires – this prohibits the closure of at least 90 percent of Montana post offices; and
  • Protections to ensure service standards are protected for seniors, businesses and Montana voters who vote by mail.

Baucus and Tester were joined by a bipartisan group of 41 additional senators on today’s letter. Complete text of the Senators’ letter follows below.

May 3, 2012

The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza S.W.
Washington, DC 20260-0010

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,

We write you today to urge you to extend the current moratorium on the closing of postal facilities. As you know, the current moratorium is scheduled to end on May 15th.

On April 25th, the United States Senate passed S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act. We believe this bipartisan legislation will provide the United States Postal Service (USPS) with the flexibility and tools it needs to get back on the road to financial stability. An amendment included in this legislation, passed by voice vote, expresses the Sense of the Senate that the USPS should not close any postal facilities until enactment of this postal reform legislation.

While the USPS faces significant financial challenges, we believe that post offices provide social and economic benefits, particularly to rural communities. Rural citizens depend on the mail to manage their lives and stay connected with their government. A 2011 Commerce Department report shows that over 30 percent of U.S households did not have broadband Internet access at home and over 25 percent of households did not even use the Internet. Postal mail remains the one universal service connecting the American people to commerce, government, news, and social and civic institutions.

Preserving and maintaining a viable Postal Service and its ability to continue to serve the entire nation is an indispensable element for the entire postal industry, its workers, and most importantly the many communities around the country who depend on a strong and reliable USPS.

We are deeply concerned that the closing of these postal facilities prior to postal reform legislation being enacted would be devastating to communities around the country. This moratorium will provide the time needed to enact the reforms in the 21st Century Postal Service Act. Again, we strongly urge you to extend the current moratorium on the closing of postal facilities.

Sincerely,

Max Baucus and Jon Tester

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