Sen­a­tors Sup­port Sav­ing the Postal Ser­vice

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS -

A group of 27 sen­a­tors called to­day for “sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments” in a bill to mod

ernize the U.S. Postal Ser­vice.

Washington, DC

In a let­ter to a Se­nate panel that over­sees the Postal Ser­vice, Sens. Bernie San­ders (I-VT.), Pa­trick Leahy and 25 oth­ers sug­gested spe­cific mea­sures to pre­serve first-

class and Satur­day mail de­liv­ery, stop whole­sale clos­ings of ru­ral post of­fices and mail pro­cess­ing cen­ters, and spare many of the 220,000 jobs that the Postal Ser­vice wants to cut.

“Ev­ery­one un­der­stands that the Postal Ser­vice is in the midst of a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial cri­sis that must be ad­dressed,” the sen­a­tors wrote. “But we be­lieve that this fi­nan­cial cri­sis can be solved in a way that does not sub­stan­tially slow down the de­liv­ery of mail and harm ru­ral Amer­ica.”

The 27 sen­a­tors, a ma­jor­ity of the Demo­cratic cau­cus, said they looked for­ward to work­ing with Sen. Joseph Lieber­man (I-conn.), chair­man of the Home­land Se­cu­rity and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, and Thomas Carper (D-del.), who chairs a sub­com­mit­tee that deals with the Postal Ser­vice.

San­ders and oth­ers said the Postal Ser­vice should be pro­hib­ited from slow­ing down first-class mail de­liv­ery, which would re­sult if Postmaster Gen­eral Pa­trick Don­a­hoe car­ries out a plan to shut­ter 252 mail pro­cess­ing cen­ters. The shut­downs would leave the Postal Ser­vice with fewer than half of the 508 mail sort­ing fa­cil­i­ties that are in op­er­a­tion to­day. “If USPS be­comes in­con­ve­nient and slow, many of its most loyal cus­tomers – from home de­liv­ery med­i­ca­tion com­pa­nies to news­pa­per pub­lish­ers – will turn to pri­vate mail­ing op­tions. Once those cus­tomers leave, they are most likely not com­ing back, and the Postal Ser­vice’s fi­nan­cial woes will con­tinue to spi­ral,” the let­ter said.

The let­ter writ­ers also said the Se­nate bill should pre­vent the clo­sure of many ru­ral post of­fices that are the “heart and soul” of their com­mu­ni­ties, many of them serv­ing ar­eas that lack In­ter­net and cell phone ser­vice.

They want stronger lan­guage in the bill to main­tain six­day mail de­liv­ery. The Postal Ser­vice should have to hold off for at least four years be­fore it could take steps to end Satur­day de­liv­er­ies, and then only un­der very limited cir­cum­stances.

The sen­a­tors also said the Postal Ser­vice should be al­lowed to re­cover more than $10 bil­lion in over­pay­ments in a pen­sion fund and no longer be forced to put $5.5 bil­lion a year into a re­tiree health care

ac­count that is al­ready flush with funds.

Un­der a key pro­posal, the sen­a­tors called for a Blue-rib­bon

En­tre­pre­neur­ial Com­mis­sion to de­velop a new busi­ness model for the Postal Ser­vice. The com­mit­tee bill would let the Postal Ser­vice of­fer some new ser­vices like is­su­ing state hunt­ing and fish­ing li­censes, for ex­am­ple. The Se­nate bill should go far­ther, San­ders and the oth­ers said, by im­ple­ment­ing in­no­va­tive ideas for new ser­vices rec­om­mended by the com­mis­sion of en­trepreneurs, in­no­va­tors, post­mas­ters, postal work­ers and oth­ers.

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