USPS delays closing postal facilities

None Karen Bleier/Newscom
The U.S. Postal Service will delay closing or consolidating any post office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012, the agency announced Tuesday.

USPS said it made the decision "in response to a request made by multiple U.S. senators" and it will continue "all necessary steps required for review of these facilities during the interim period, including public input meetings."

Last week, the Postal Service announced that it was moving forward with plans to close 252 of its 487 mail processing facilities, which will eliminate 28,000 jobs nationwide. As a result of the closures, first-class mail will move to a two-to-three day standard delivery time and next-day delivery will be rare.

The financially troubled agency estimated the change will save $3 billion by 2015.

"The Postal Service hopes this period will help facilitate the enactment of comprehensive postal legislation," the agency said a statement. "Given the Postal Service's financial situation and the loss of mail volume, the Postal Service must continue to take all steps necessary to reduce costs and increase revenue."

USPS expects to receive a third deferral this week from Congress on a multibillion-dollar payment to prefund retirees' health benefits. It is unclear whether Congress will grant the Postal Service another grace period on the payment as part of the measure keeping the government running. The last reprieve was part of a bill that President Obama signed into law funding several departments and some smaller agencies for the remainder of fiscal 2012, and keeping others open through Dec. 16.

The Postal Service's payment originally was due at the end of September and initially deferred in the continuing resolution to keep the government open through Nov. 18.

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