WASHINGTON – The four sponsors of Senate-passed postal reform legislation Wednesday said they hoped a decision by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to reduce hours at 13,000 post offices around the country would persuade members of Congress to enact fair and comprehensive reform legislation. The House must still pass a bill so a conference committee can reconcile the Senate and House bills. Following are the statements:
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said: “I am disappointed the Postal Service is moving forward to reduce post office hours while Congress is still considering reform legislation to put the USPS back on sound financial ground. But I am encouraged that the announced changes are consistent with the Senate-passed postal reform legislation. Now, the House must act expeditiously on postal reform legislation to avoid a more severe loss of essential postal services for millions of people across the country.”
HSGAC Ranking Members Susan Collins, R-Maine, said: “I am cautiously optimistic that the Postmaster General has now devised a plan that will help preserve some essential postal services for rural America, while allowing the Postal Service to reduce its costs as it must do. Reduced hours at certain post offices or their co-location with another facility or a retail store, if properly designed, could well accomplish both goals. To be effective, such a plan must, however, take into account people’s schedules and post offices should be open at times convenient to their customers. The fact is, there are many options to cut costs and expand revenue while preserving service, such as: reducing the size of processing plants without closing them, shifting hours of some post offices, permitting other state or local services to be administered at post offices, or moving tiny post offices into grocery or other stores within the same community.
“It’s good news if, indeed, most of the 3,200 smaller post offices currently targeted by the Postal Service will not close, but rather that creative ways to reduce their costs will be explored. Involving communities and providing different options for mail service will both save the Postal Service money and also continue to ensure timely and effective access to postal services for customers. There should be clear minimum standards for service -- which we establish in the bill just passed through the Senate -- and communities should have a real voice in the decision.
“It is good news as well that the Postmaster General apparently has decided to implement some of the common-sense suggestions many of us have been urging for more than a year. I remain troubled that processing facilities could still be closed beginning just next week, which makes no sense at all given the progress on postal reform legislation. I expect to discuss this issue with the Postmaster General later today.”
Federal Financial Management Subcommittee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., said: “This proposal allows the Postal Service to move forward with some cost saving efforts by utilizing tools it currently has access to, but the reality is that the Postal Service is forced to rely on a limited toolbox because Congress has yet to pass comprehensive, long-term reform to give the Postal Service the resources and flexibility it needs to significantly address its financial challenges.
“Stopgap, piecemeal measures like the proposal offered today only address a small part of the problem and will not keep the Postal Service from an imminent collapse. This plan does not address some serious issues that continue to drain the Postal Service’s finances every day, including its costly retiree health care payments and past overpayments to the Federal Employee Retirement System – which total nearly $11 billion.
“Moreover, this solution doesn’t go far enough to encourage a responsible reduction in its workforce. The Postal Service needs a comprehensive solution, not more tinkering around the edges. The Senate passed a comprehensive bill that would modernize the Postal Service, allowing it to right-size and become competitive in the 21st Century. Now, it’s up to the House to pass a bill. We can’t wait any longer.”
FFM Subcommittee Ranking Member Scott Brown, R-Mass., said: “I appreciate the Postmaster General efforts to address the needs of rural America, despite the reduction in service this may mean for some customers. Postal reform requires hard choices, but what this plan makes even more clear is that the financial condition of USPS grows more precarious with each passing day. There will be more calls to cut service as a means to stay above water in the future unless we can get comprehensive reform legislation through Congress and get USPS back on a path towards fiscal solvency.”
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