Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., introduces amendment that would delay the closures for two years.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been one of the most politically contentious issues facing the country over the past several years, and it could soon get even more controversial.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has introduced an amendment to the Senate bill to approve the pipeline -- which has consumed nearly all of the upper chamber’s time since it convened earlier this month -- to prohibit the U.S. Postal Service from moving forward with scheduled facility closures this year. Stabenow’s amendment would delay the closures for two years. The measure would also require USPS to reestablish overnight delivery standards that were largely dismissed earlier this year to allow for the consolidated network.
The closures will force the Postal Service to shed about 7,000 jobs, according to a Government Executive analysis of USPS data, and force an even larger number of employees to relocate. Many lawmakers -- mostly Democrats but some Republicans as well -- have joined postal unions and mailers in lobbying against the consolidation plan. USPS has already shuttered 141 facilities since it began its “network rationalization” plan in 2012.
"The post office provides a critical basic service to everyone no matter where you live,” said Stabenow, who introduced the amendment with 11 of her colleagues. “Closing facilities and cutting services will lead to delays that will harm Michigan businesses and families."
Senate Democrats attempted a last-ditch effort to delay the scheduled closures at the end of the last Congress, but their efforts were blocked in favor of an ultimately unsuccessful attempt at passing more comprehensive postal reform.
Many consolidations were originally scheduled for January, but the Postal Service has pushed back the schedule for nearly all of those facilities, citing the need to stabilize operational changes and to deal with potential “winter weather disruptions.”
The closures represent just one of the ways USPS is attempting to dig itself out of a large financial hole. The agency recently proposed raising prices across-the-board by nearly 2 percent beginning in April, which would bring in an extra $900 million annually. The Postal Service separately proposed raising rates for certain package services.
Oversight leaders in both the House and Senate have promised to work toward compromise legislation to overhaul the Postal Service, but bills like Stabenow’s could upend that process. In addition to the measure to block consolidations, 107 House members have cosponsored a resolution to preserve six-day mail delivery and nearly a dozen have supported another to preserve to-the-door delivery.
(Image via Flickr user Senator Stabenow)