February 9, 2012

McCaskill to Fight for Plan to Save Rural Post Offices, Six-Day Delivery

Senator: Post offices are 'more than just brick and mortar,' are relied upon by families and businesses across Missouri

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill on February 7th announced a plan that aims to protect six-day delivery and keep open rural post offices, like the one in Rutledge, that are at risk of being shuttered as the U.S. Postal Service seeks to cut expenses.

At a Kansas City post office, McCaskill cited Missouri families and businesses who rely on the Postal Service for everything from life-saving prescriptions to veterans benefits and outlined a plan to keep those services safe.

"Families and businesses in Missouri know that our post offices are more than just brick and mortar-postal service is a lifeblood for our communities," said McCaskill, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Postal Service. "There is a commonsense plan to keep this vital service alive, especially in our rural towns. Folks across the state have made their voices heard, and I'm ready to go to bat for our rural communities."

Congress is currently considering legislation to address the finances of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which is losing billions of dollars each year. Ideas currently under consideration include: closing approximately 3,700 post offices including 167 in Missouri; closing more than 250 mail processing facilities; eliminating Saturday mail delivery; and ending overnight delivery standards for first class mail.

However, McCaskill noted that rural post offices constitute less than one percent of the USPS budget-even if all rural post offices across the country were closed, the USPS would be virtually no closer to resolving its financial challenges.

McCaskill will be fighting to pass a plan, which she unveiled in front of the post office at Union Station in Kansas City today, that would:

Protect Rural Post Offices from closure by giving the Postal Regulatory Commission binding authority to prevent post offices from being closed in cases in which the USPS did not present communities alternative options to closing a post office (such as reduced hours or staffing).

Maintain six-day delivery with a four-year prohibition on eliminating six-day delivery. McCaskill would also codify that a potential move to five-day could occur only if the Government Accountability Office determines that this is the only viable option for the USPS to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.

Maintain delivery standards for first class mail and therefore retain a competitive advantage enjoyed by the USPS by ensuring that customers know their bill payments and other documents will arrive at their destination on time.

Provide the USPS flexibility in providing retirement benefits providing immediate relief by reducing the retirement health benefit pre-funding burden from approximately $5.5 billion, to between $3 and $3.5 billion.

Encourage entrepreneurism and creativity in the USPS business model by bringing together entrepreneurs, innovators, small businesses, labor representatives, and consumer advocates that would recommend a new business model for the postal service to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability within one year.

In December, McCaskill won a five-month delay in postal facility closures, when the U.S. Postal Service agreed to her request to put any potential closures on hold until May 15 to allow time to implement cost-saving reforms.

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