WASHINGTON — After recent flooding caused the temporary closing of some Missouri post offices, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today introduced bipartisan legislation that would prevent the Postal Service from using its emergency suspension process—meant to be temporary—to indefinitely close post offices without notice to the community and opportunity to appeal.
Since 2011, 650 postal facilities across the country have been “temporarily” closed under emergency suspension. Of those closures, hundreds remain closed today, and the Postal Service has not told those communities if—or when—those post offices might reopen. McCaskill introduced the legislation with Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.
“Missourians who have seen their postal service delayed or suspended because of natural disasters should expect those same facilities to be reopened as soon as possible,” said McCaskill, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Postal Service. “Using a disaster or any other emergency provision as a back door to permanently close post offices isn’t right and it shouldn’t be allowed.”
Last year, McCaskill demanded answers from the Postal Service on how it will protect mail delivery for rural Missourians and efficiently manage the cost-sharing benefits with competitors to carry mail the “last mile,” especially in rural areas, saying: “I think it’s really important we get a handle on [rural delivery times]. Those of us who are really pushing to protect rural delivery…think it’s important we know what we’re working with from a data-driven basis.”
And McCaskill previously sponsored the Rural Postal Act, a bill that aims to improve postal service, delivery times, and standards in rural communities that have been disproportionately affected by cuts to the Postal Service. That bill—also backed by Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana—would have restored overnight delivery, returned a faster First-Class mail standard, made six-day delivery permanent, and enacted strict criteria the Postal Service would have to meet before closing a post office to ensure that rural communities are still able to easily access the mail system.