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.