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WASHINGTON – Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee late Friday to caution the Members about implementing a moratorium on postal facility closures and urge support for the bipartisan, comprehensive the Postal Reform Act of 2014, which was passed out of committee earlier this year.

“We understand that a number of senators have asked that you include language in appropriations legislation this fall that would prevent the U. S. Postal Service from closing or consolidating any mail processing facilities in 2015. We strongly disagree with that request and urge you to reject it. Instead of actually fixing the problem and providing a roadmap to a strong and vital Postal Service in the 21st Century, that approach will further undermine customer confidence and ensure that the Postal Service continues to twist in the wind, facing an uncertain future that could ultimately hasten its demise.”

“This is not the time for more kicking the can down the road.  This is not the time for more wing and a prayer.  Instead, we urge you to work with us to pass the thoughtful and comprehensive reforms that are embodied in S. 1486.  They will not only preserve mail delivery standards and delay or prevent plant closures, they will serve to modernize the Postal Service and ensure that it has the tools and resources to thrive in the Digital Age of this 21st Century.”

In the letter, Senators Carper and Coburn urge their colleagues to support the bipartisan Postal Reform Act in order to ensure a better future for the United States Postal Service (USPS), which has been struggling financially for years and will continue to do so without comprehensive reform from Congress. The Postal Reform Act is a balanced solution to the Postal Service’s financial crisis that would keep postal operations and service standards, protect millions of mailing industry jobs, and enable USPS to serve the American public for years to come.

 

Read more about the bipartisan Postal Reform Act of 2014 here.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

September 5, 2014

 

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski                                            The Honorable Richard Shelby

Chairman                                                                                 Vice Chairman

Committee on Appropriations                                                 Committee on Appropriations

S-128 Capitol                                                                          S-146A Capitol

Washington, DC  20510                                                         Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Tom Udall                                                      The Honorable Mike Johanns

Chairman                                                                                 Vice Chairman

Subcommittee on Financial Services                                       Subcommittee on Financial Services

and General Government                                                        and General Government

110 Hart Senate Office Building                                            404 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC  20510                                                         Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Colleagues:

We understand that a number of senators have asked that you include language in appropriations legislation this fall that would prevent the U. S. Postal Service from closing or consolidating any mail processing facilities in 2015.  We strongly disagree with that request and urge you to reject it.  Instead of actually fixing the problem and providing a roadmap to a strong and vital Postal Service in the 21st Century, that approach will further undermine customer confidence and ensure that the Postal Service continues to twist in the wind, facing an uncertain future that could ultimately hasten its demise.  

Earlier this year, a clear majority of our committee voted to report legislation to the full Senate that will actually fix this problem. That bill, S. 1486, the Postal Reform Act, will enable the Postal Service to return to profitability; repay the $15 billion it owes to the U.S. Treasury; largely eliminate its $45 billion liability for retiree health care; and replace its aging fleet of 190,000 vehicles with energy-efficient vehicles equipped with the latest technology and sized to handle the continuing growth in packages and parcels.  Our bill also makes it possible to replace antiquated mail processing equipment in hundreds of centers across America, while introducing new technology that will enhance the service in tens of thousands of post offices and for millions of postal customers throughout our nation.  Our committee’s bill will make permanent the temporary rate increase approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission and implemented earlier this year, making it the Postal Service’s new revenue baseline.  If we truly want to also enable the Postal Service to provide and expand  innovative new services nationwide and create substantial new revenues from a unique distribution network that’s 200 years old, there’s a way to do it.  Join us in enacting S. 1486 this year.

For the past half-dozen years or more the Postal Service has largely sought to cut its way back to profitability, seeking to right-size the enterprise as the Internet has dramatically changed the way we communicate with one another, pay our bills and shop.   Headcount has been reduced through attrition from 788,000 to 491,000 since 2000.  The number of mail processing centers is down from nearly 675 in 2006 to 320 today.   And, the hours of thousands of rural post offices have been trimmed to four or six hours a day.  It’s time to help the Postal Service move beyond a culture of cutting and begin to embrace a culture of innovation and growth.  We can help them do that and give them the tools they needs – not just to survive – but to prosper in the years to come. 

We’re not going to get there by adopting the approach suggested in the letter that half of our colleagues sent to you.  This is not the time for more kicking the can down the road.  This is not the time for more wing and a prayer.  Instead, we urge you to work with us to pass the thoughtful and comprehensive reforms that are embodied in S. 1486.  They will not only preserve mail delivery standards and delay or prevent plant closures, they will serve to modernize the Postal Service and ensure that it has the tools and resources to thrive in the Digital Age of this 21st Century.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful consideration of the heartfelt views presented in this letter.  We earnestly look forward to working with each of you to restore the confidence of the American people in our U.S. Postal Service and to protect the 8 million American jobs that depend on a strong and vibrant Postal Service. 

With best personal regards, we are

Sincerely yours,

 

Thomas R. Carper                                                                   

Chairman                                                                                

 

Tom A. Coburn, M.D.

Ranking Member