The U.S. Postal Service may have gotten a break in President Obama's deficit reduction proposal, but the beleaguered agency still has obstacles to face. Some lawmakers are unhappy about recent efforts to study more than 3,600 post offices for potential closure and have gone to the Postal Regulatory Commission to plead their case.
In a Sept. 15 letter to PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway, 73 House members requested that the oversight body reject USPS closure proposals, instead relieving the agency's retiree health benefits prefunding obligation and removing limitations on retail products sold at postal locations. Closing post office locations threatens universal service, especially to rural communities, they said.
"Widespread closure of post offices should be rejected in favor of more thoughtful reform that fixes the errors of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and finally allows the Postal Service to behave like a business and ensures the requirement to provide universal service is fulfilled," the letter states.
USPS officials continue to insist that such closures will not impact customers' ability to locate services, even in rural areas. In addition to the agency's website, so-called "village" locations and other retail outlets that sell stamps, mail carriers are "post offices on wheels" and can conduct transactions made in bricks-and-mortar offices. But it comes as little surprise that lawmakers are protective of the post offices in their districts and are looking for ways to keep them open.