Johnson: Put hold on post office closures“The Postal Service plays a critical role in our state’s economy and our way of life, and I don’t want the USPS to make potentially painful and permanent changes before we finish our work on postal reform,” Johnson said.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Sen. Tim Johnson wants the United States Postal Service to not close or consolidate mail processing facilities or rural post offices for the next six months.
Rep. Kristi Noem said she agrees with Johnson, while Sen. John Thune was unwilling to go that far.
Johnson, D-S.D., called on the USPS to reform the way it deals with fiscal challenges while preserving quality postal services in rural areas. A plan unveiled last week called for closing mail processing centers in Huron and Rapid City, along with more than 200 other centers around the country.
“The Postal Service plays a critical role in our state’s economy and our way of life, and I don’t want the USPS to make potentially painful and permanent changes before we finish our work on postal reform,” Johnson said.
“There is agreement that significant changes are needed to restore financial solvency to USPS, and this six-month moratorium will give us time to enact reforms that ensure the Postal Service remains financially viable and continues to provide quality service to rural America.”
Johnson was joined by more than 20 senators who are calling on congressional leadership and the Appropriations Committee to include the moratorium in an appropriations bill that is being debated this month.
Thune is not on that list and said while he saw both sides of the issue, tough financial choices need to be made.
“After losing over $5 billion in 2011, it is clear the U.S Postal Service is in need of critical reform to ensure its long-term viability,” said Thune, R-S.D.
“Having grown up in Murdo, I understand the importance of post offices in rural communities, but I also recognize the serious fiscal challenges that face the USPS.”
Noem said she backs the proposal.
“I hear about the importance of our post offices every weekend when I am back home, in every part of the state, which is why I’m supportive of this plan,” Noem said.
“As I’ve said before, I’m deeply concerned about the financial situation of the Postal Service and personally understand the impact that the proposed closures would have on our communities, as my own hometown post office in Hazel is on the closure list,” she said.
“Long-term fixes are needed to put the Postal Service back on solid financial footing,” Noem said. “The Postal Service should first look internally for inefficiencies and ways to cut costs before they cut back on services, especially to rural Americans.”
Johnson is a cosponsor of the Protecting Rural Post Offices Act, which he wants to see included in a broader reform package.
He said the “bipartisan legislation” would prohibit the Postal Service from closing any post office that would result in a distance of more than 10 miles between any two post offices.