Udall Moves to Protect Rural Post Offices from Closures
Udall: Post Offices Anchor Communities, Provide Important Services
Amid the Senate's debate on overhauling the U.S. Postal Service this week, Mark Udall today co-sponsored an amendment to the postal reform bill currently on the floor that would protect rural post offices from closures for two years while the USPS looks into other cost-saving measures, and would ensure continued, vital services for rural Coloradans who have limited access to broadband and reliable cellular service.
"While I understand the need to make the U.S. Postal Service leaner in the 21st century, I do not believe that rural Coloradans should have their access to vital postal and other services limited as a result of decisions made by bureaucrats in Washington. The USPS is facing a serious financial situation, and needs congressional intervention to help become smarter and more efficient so it can remain financially viable in the years to come," Udall said. "It is imperative that we move forward with legislation to return the USPS to sound financial footing, to further protect important mail delivery standards and ensure that Coloradans, especially those in rural areas, continue to have access to the important USPS services for generations to come. This important amendment protects rural post offices from closure for two years, while also ensuring that the USPS takes into account the inherent geographical challenges facing rural Americans before any future proposed closures."
The amendment, led by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), would also further protect rural post offices from future proposed closures by outlining factors - such as geography, access to Internet and potentially negative economic impact to the community - that would need to be included in future determinations of any closure. After the two-year moratorium, the following conditions would have to be satisfied before a rural post office could be considered for closure:
- Seniors and persons with disabilities will receive the same or substantially similar service, including specifically seniors' access to prescription medication sent through the mail.
- Businesses in the community will not suffer economic loss and the economic loss to the community resulting from the closure will not exceed the savings the Postal Service obtains by closing the post office.
- The area served by the post office has adequate access to wired broadband Internet service.
- The next nearest post office is within 10 miles' driving distance (as measured on roads with year-round access).
The USPS announced in July 2011 a plan to close or consolidate over 3,600 mostly rural post offices and over 250 mail processing facilities across the country - 71 post offices and four facilities in Colorado - as a cost-saving measure. Udall has been a vocal advocate for Colorado's rural post offices, which serve as anchors for the daily activities in many of Colorado's rural communities. He has written numerous letters to regulators on the issue, and in December last year, he secured a five-month stay till May 15 on closing postal facilities, protecting rural Colorado jobs while Congress works on comprehensive postal reform. For more background on his work, click HERE, HERE and HERE.