Senate Passes Bennet Amendment to Help Keep Post Offices Open by Streamlining and Improving Access to Government Services

Under Amendment, Postal Service Would Provide Additional Services, Such as Issuing Social Security Cards, Hunting Licenses at Post Offices

The U.S. Senate today adopted an amendment by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to the postal reform bill to help keep post offices open by streamlining and improving access to government services. The amendment was adopted with broad bipartisan support.  

Specifically, the United States Postal Service (USPS) would study and develop a plan related to partnering with appropriate agencies to assist with services, such as the issuance of social security cards and hunting and fishing licenses. Inter-agency agreements have the potential to bring in more customers and maximize resources, which could keep many of post offices operational and maintain delivery standards.

“By providing additional government services at our postal facilities we can help maximize resources to keep more of our rural post offices open and improve access to services,” said Bennet. “This amendment could save taxpayer dollars, institute greater efficiencies in government services and protect postal services, particularly in rural communities, while transforming the Postal Service to adapt to the 21st century.”

The Postal Service already assists the Department of State with the provision of passports which provides easier access to consumers while making the best use of government resources. Such collaboration has the potential to reduce costs and provide greater convenience and accessibility to such services for residents.

Additionally, the Bennet provision would be required the Postal Service to explore the potential for supplementing decennial Census activities. The early cost estimates for the 2020 Census range widely from $12.8 billion to $18 billion in total expenditures, including costs for field data collection and support systems. During the data-collecting period, Census enumerators are placed in established locations throughout the country to prepare for a high-quality and accurate count. As the Bureau reengineers the field infrastructure, the Postal Service could supplement these critically important activities through its own capital resources and personnel that are familiar with local populations and geography.

This is the latest of Bennet’s efforts to protect postal service for rural Coloradans. He has filed a bipartisan amendment, along with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), to the postal reform bill to arm local rural communities facing post office or postal processing facility closures with an advocate in the process.  He has also cosponsored an amendment to keep post offices open through the 2012 elections and protect the integrity of the vote by mail process following the election. 

In February, Bennet and Senator Mark Udall, along with 25 other Senators, sent a letter to the Senate panel that oversees the USPS to call for “significant improvements” to the postal reform bill to preserve First-Class and Saturday mail delivery, protect service for rural communities and spare 220,000 jobs that could be lost.

In December, the Colorado senators successfully pushed for a moratorium on the closing or consolidation of area mail processing facilities and rural post offices to give Congress time to address the USPS’s financial problems through comprehensive reform. In November, they wrote a letter to Senate committee leaders urging them to consider western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the USPS. In the letter, the senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation, take creative approaches to existing assets and maintain the competitive edge.

Earlier last year, Bennet and Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General expressing concern over USPS location closures and consolidations that could make it more difficult for Coloradans to send letters and mail packages. They also sent a letter to Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to carefully consider the effects of possible postal service closures on rural areas and small towns in Colorado and across the country.

The postal reform bill, known also as the 21st Century Postal Service Act, aims to address the immediate financial strain and long-term solvency of the USPS by enacting reforms that modernize and streamline the postal service while striving to maintain high service standards.