Bennet, Udall Call for Postal Service Modernization, Propose Improvements to Bill

Colorado Senators Want to Preserve First-Class and Saturday Mail Delivery, Protect Service for Rural Communities and Spare 220,000 Jobs That Could Be Lost

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, Mark Udall and 25 other Senators today called for “significant improvements” to a bill to modernize the U.S. Postal Service.

In a letter to a Senate panel that oversees the Postal Service, the senators 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 are in jeopardy.  

“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 senators 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 senators also wrote that 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 without reliable Internet and cell phone service. The Postal Service is considering closing up to 60 post offices in Colorado alone, with many of these located in rural and mountainous areas of the state.

The senators want stronger language in the bill to maintain six-day mail delivery. The Postal Service should have to hold off for at least four years before it could take steps to end Saturday deliveries.

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, they said, by implementing innovative ideas for new services recommended by the commission of entrepreneurs, innovators, postmasters, postal workers and others. 

In addition to Bennet and Udall, the letter was signed by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) Mark Begich (D-Alaska) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Robert Casey Jr., (D-Pa.) Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Al Franken (D-Minn.) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) Mary Landrieu (D-La.) Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Tom Udall (N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

To read the letter, click here.