Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2015

50 Senators Call for Moratorium on USPS Facility Closures (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Baldwin joined Sanders and Tester in calling on the moratorium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 5:05 p.m. | A bipartisan group of 50 senators urged appropriators Thursday to include a provision in year-end, catchall spending legislation that would prevent the U.S. Post Office from closing more mail-processing facilities in the next fiscal year.

“This one-year moratorium will give Congress the time it needs to enact the comprehensive postal reforms that are necessary for the Postal Service to function effectively into the future,” the group said in a letter to Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and ranking member Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala.

The letter — circulated by Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. — was also sent to Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., chairman of the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the post office, and the panel’s ranking member Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

While Congress doesn’t provide funding for the post service, it does oversee the agency.

The letter comes as the post office has been hemorrhaging money in recent years. The agency reported Monday that it lost $2 billion in the second quarter, and $740 million compared to the same time last year. The post office has recorded a loss in 21 of the last 23 quarters. However, the USPS did report a $327 million, or 2 percent, increase in operating revenue due, in part, to continued growth in package delivery.

Congress has sought to reform the post office, but has failed to enact any legislation — including a controversial request from the agency to cut Saturday mail delivery as a cost-saving measure.

So without congressional reform, the post office has already consolidated 141 mail-processing facilities since 2012 and more closures are expected, which the bipartisan group wants to halt by including a provision on the omnibus or continuing resolution Congress is likely to pass before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

“In the absence of Congressional compromise, the Postal Service will propose more sweeping changes to its operations,” the letter warned.

“The Postmaster General has announced that the postal service will consolidate up to 82 more mail processing facilities and eliminate up to 15,000 more jobs in 2015,” the letter said. “This wave of closures will directly impact 37 states across our nation, and more importantly, the citizens who on the postal service to be reliable.”

The senators also called for additional language that would continue service standards for first-class mail and periodicals as of July 1, 2012, which they contend are at risk of being weakened to reduce costs.

A USPS spokesman said that congressional reform would be the best course of action, and stressed that failing that, the Postal Service should be allowed to continue to make its operations more efficient.

“We are disappointed by the recent effort to block our ongoing initiative to remove excess capacity from our mail processing network,” said Dave Partenheimer a USPS spokesman. “It would be unfortunate if this action were to impede our current progress. A comprehensive legislative package is the most appropriate way to address our systemic business model and financial issues.”

Most of the 50 signatories to the letter were Democrats, but six were Republicans: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Hoeven of North Dakota, John Thune of South Dakota, Susan Collins of Maine, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

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  1. tokm

    Aug. 14, 2014
    6:08 p.m.

    USPS just announced they lost ANOTHER $2 Billion — AFTER raising prices — AGAIN. Our politicians are brainless.

    • pitch1934

      Aug. 15, 2014
      10:52 a.m.

      The facts are that in 2006 Congress passed an onerous bill that requires the Postal Service to prefund the health costs of retirees for 75 years into the future. In effect they are paying for people not even born at this time. Without that the PS would be breaking even or even turning a profit.

  2. SWEETSWOO

    Aug. 15, 2014
    12:14 a.m.

    The Postal Management all the way to the top are brainless– they are not trained but brought up in the ranks– most of them are sociopaths and most of them are there to implode this agency– it is NOT what they took an oath of office to do– we should be telling this PMG to step down… this is the peoples post office not Darrell ISSA’S post office

  3. Val Nostdahl

    Aug. 15, 2014
    10:30 a.m.

    In 2000, 2001 under President Bush, Postal Employees were made to pay in extra to their retirement accounts known as CSRS , or Civil Service Retirement System for those born before 1984, who do not get social security and FERS or Federal Employee Retirement System under the 1997 budget reconciliation act for budget reasons only not for retirement , this was a 2 year tax increase to their retirement systems from their federal working checks for budget reasons not for retirement. They were thanked by the President and both sides of Congress for their sacrifice. The increase was removed from the Presidents budget in 2002 and new legislation began on postal retirement in 2003. ( National Association of Letter Carriers Legislative Fact Sheet 2002) From their an hypothetical postal funding request was made by Senator Collins of Maine and other congress members on the matter of CSRS overfunding. The congressional budget office wrote a letter to the honorable Jim Nussle which can be read on line on CSRS overfunding and the fact the Postal Service might get lowered payments for overpaying in to the account . and is dated January 27, 2003. The Envelope Mailing Institute Foundation then met with the Postal Studies or Postal Commission on the matter on February 12, 2003 and that documentation is online, in which the EMA found that the USPS had overfunded its CSRS according to Office of Personal Management or OPM by 71 billion dollars but according to the GAO or Government Accounting Office, by some 103.1 billion ( and later the USPS gave testimony before the federal trade commission it was closer to 140 billion but was denied an impartial judge on the matter as most business in the USA would be allowed since they were considered a Federal quasi-government entity) so then legislation for legal recognition on the matter of the overpayment or overfunding for the USPS was made to congress , so that the USPS who owed 32 billion in future payments in to the CSRS account could get that lowered to 5 billion, and that 5 billion was to be paid in to CSRS for over 40 years , by intra agency transfer ( not unlike direct deposit ) for future payments of retirees, who had paid in extra to both accounts and now had 2 overpaid accounts for retirement by the USPS. But due to congressional payoff by the ALEC/Koch group ( see Alec/Koch cabal pursuing the privatization of USPS for Ups and FedEx, bob Sloan , vltp.net , April 20120 to destroy the USPS and its workers by congressional action, the congressional budget office then stepped in stating if the USPS got lowered payments that would mean the stamp rates would not be raised, and since the lobbying was going on to Senator Collins , the PMG who would make a pay per performance bonus of 72 thousand more a year, and double his pay and benefits due to that, and would make twice what the President makes in a year, and get 5.5 million dollar retirement and get a new cushy job in DC by the person who was chair to pass the PAEA, then stamp rates were not raised for 2003, 2004 , 2005 and until 2006, causing an artificial deficit in the federal budget according to CBO that would lead to 47 billion. So then chicken little sky is falling Senator Collins had a white paper passed around of the dire financial straits of the USPS, due to this matter and the Postal Accountability and Enhancement ACT was passed due to having too much money in retirement accounts for postal workers which according to Senator Collins was not keeping its promise to postal workers on retirement . The PAEA began to take 5 billion a year for over 10 years out of postal profits that postal workers helped to earn instead of having 5 billion paid back over 40 years that was agreed to by the Administration, The USPS and PRC or postal regulatory commission and would of had no effect on the USPS, the public service , the workers of the USPS , the federal budget or federal budget scoring, but instead due to the fact the PMG was being paid off, stamp rates were not raised and the PAEA was voted by voice vote and then the PMG began closing post office, selling them off, and lowering health and job safety on the job by increased deaths and injuries for postal workers ,due to non replacement of attrition or retirees who were lucky enough to retire, so they were not replaced by the US Labor department who oversees the management of the postal service hiring staff and is trusted to have health and safety and welfare on the job and violates the fair labor standards law by the PAEA effect on postal offices. So since 2010 there have been some 53 deaths of postal workers due indirectly or directly to the effect of the PAEA and another 870 since the 2006 passing of the PAEA due to having too much money in retirement accounts in the first place. Senator Collins is the author of the PAEA. USPS widows in online on face book along with http://www.savethepostoffice.com

  4. Jack Everett

    Aug. 15, 2014
    1:20 p.m.

    They could close the postal service for good and I would be glad. Its an outdated organization that has not kept up with modern times and worthless. I have not used the USPS for years and do not miss it because all I ever get is unwanted adds to fill the garbage can. We can no longer support these outdated federal services that do nothing but bilk us out of the little money we have left.

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