Members of Congress Seek Extension of Moratorium

May 11, 2012

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More than 100 U.S. representatives have signed a letter to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe urging him to extend the moratorium on the closure of post offices and mail processing facilities, and asking him to refrain from cutting hours at rural offices.

“We write to urge you to extend the May 15 moratorium on post office and mail processing facility closures until the Congress has completed action on postal reform legislation, including any action that would result in cuts to rural postal services such as cutting back hours at rural facilities,” the May 9 letter said.

The passage of a postal reform bill in the Senate “is evidence that Congress is moving toward putting the United States Postal Service on a path to sustainability,” 107 House members said. “We understand that the USPS cannot sustain itself under its current system, and we agree it is up to Congress to act,” they wrote.

Recently the Postmaster General has said there won’t be a large number of closures as soon as the moratorium expires, but he has not agreed to extend the moratorium.

But postal workers, along with many lawmakers and postal customers, are unwilling to rely on his public reassurances that closures will be handled methodically and will not be disruptive.

“The Postmaster General’s positions and plans have changed many times in the last year, but his strategy has been consistent,” said APWU Executive Vice President Greg Bell. “His goal is to cut jobs, close post offices and mail processing facilities, and dismantle the postal network. We must do everything we can to stop him.

“The Postal Service should drop its plans to cut service, and develop a strategy to expand service and strengthen the USPS,” Bell added.

Forty-seven senators have also asked the Postmaster General to extend the moratorium. The four co-sponsors of a Senate bill asked Donahoe to extend the moratorium until after legislation is enacted. In a letter dated April 30, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), wrote, “There is considerable concern in the Senate that this approach will unnecessarily degrade the infrastructure which is one of the Postal Service’s most important assets.

“We believe an attempt to proceed with the planned closures — to ‘get in under the wire’ while legislation to the contrary is being considered — would be counterproductive and would violate the clear intent of the Senate.”

On May 2, 43 senators, including 37 Democrats, five Republicans, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) also asked Donahoe to extend the moratorium on the closing of post offices and mail processing facilities. They wrote, “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.”

However, three Republicans — Sen. John McCain (AZ), Sen. Tom Coburn (OK), and Sen. Bob Corker (TN) — have urged Donahoe to proceed with planned closures and other cutbacks. “Despite the Senate's passage last week of S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, we believe it is very unlikely that both the House and Senate will come to agreement on legislation that reforms the postal system anytime soon and strongly encourage you to move forward with the cost-saving changes you have previously outlined,” they wrote.

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