Includes Bennet-Supported 1-year Moratorium on All Closings
Also Includes Bennet Amendments to Give Communities a Stronger Voice in Closure Proceedings, Protect Vote By Mail and Study the Possibility of the Post Office Providing Additional Government Services
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today applauded final passage of a bill that aims to address the immediate financial strain and long-term solvency of the Unites States Postal Service (USPS) by enacting reforms that modernize the postal service while striving to maintain high service standards. The 21st Century Postal Service Act passed the Senate by a vote of 62-37.
Bennet successfully fought to include several changes to the postal reform bill to protect service, particularly in rural Colorado, where many community post offices are facing the possibility of closure.
“The Postal Service should adapt to its 21st century challenges with a course that encourages innovation and creative business practices that allow it to maintain high service standards,” said Bennet. “With some significant improvements in the form of amendments, this bill now will help get the USPS on the right path. It will also ensure that the USPS enacts a more thoughtful process that carefully considers the effects of closings or consolidations in rural communities.”
The postal reform bill aims to modernize and increase efficiency of the USPS, while maintaining a commitment to service standards, by:
- Instituting a one-year moratorium on all post office closings and consolidations;
- Providing greater protections for community post offices by requiring the Postal Service to consider several factors before closing post offices, such as lack of access to broadband and internet services, transportation challenges and the age and demographic factors in the area served;
- Instating a moratorium on post office and facility closings until the Postal Service develops guaranteed retail service standards;
- Providing the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) authority to reverse closure and consolidation decisions based on retail service standards;
- Requiring more consideration before the closure or consolidation of a mail processing facility;
- Setting minimum delivery standards, including overnight delivery for first-class mail within a particular processing area for three years;
- Allowing flexibility to offer more services, such as shipping wine and beer;
- Protecting Saturday delivery for two years and requiring the GAO to report on the effects of Saturday closings; and
- Ending the practice of over-paying postal employees’ pensions, returning $11 billion in overpayments and reducing prepayments from $5.5 billion per year to $3.5 billion per year.
The postal reform bill included the following Bennet-backed amendments:
- A Bennet amendment to help keep post offices open by directing the USPS to study and develop a plan to assist other government agencies with services, such as the issuance of Social Security cards and hunting and fishing licenses. The amendment will streamline and improve access to government services while bringing in additional revenue streams to the Post Office.
- A bipartisan amendment Bennet introduced with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) to arm local rural communities facing post office or postal processing facility closures with an advocate in the process.
- An amendment Bennet cosponsored to protect vote by mail by putting a moratorium on the closing or consolidation of postal facilities until after the 2012 election in states, like Colorado, that conduct elections by mail or allow any voter to vote no-excuse absentee. The amendment also requires the Postal Service to notify election officials of closings and consolidations; and require that the Postal Service study the effect of closing or consolidating a mail processing facility on the ability of the affected community to vote by mail.