April 26, 2012

McCaskill Unveils Plan to Protect Rural Post Offices From Closure

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today formally unveiled her plan to protect rural communities across the country from losing their post offices.

McCaskill, who helped win the current moratorium on post office closures late last year, is introducing an amendment which would bar the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from closing rural post offices during the next two years. Thereafter, the USPS could only close a rural post office if strict criteria are met-including that seniors who rely on the post office to receive life-saving prescription drugs would have the same or substantially similar service.

The Rutledge Post Office is one of the facilities that was scheduled to close, but was granted new life under the McCaskill-led efforts.

"I'm not about to lose our rural post offices without a fight-the same kind of fight that families in rural Missouri show each and every day," said McCaskill, who was born in Rolla, Mo. "Targeting rural post offices for closure is callous, unnecessary, and irresponsible and doesn't solve the fiscal problems facing the Postal Service. Our post offices are more than just brick and mortar-they're the lifeblood for towns across our state and a source of good jobs in areas hard-hit by the economic downturn. And I'm proud to lead this fight on behalf of Missouri's families and businesses."

Under McCaskill's plan, the USPS would be prohibited from closing rural post offices at any time in the next two years, while other postal reforms are put in place to shore up the USPS finances without harming rural communities. Under McCaskill's amendment, after the two-year moratorium expires, rural post offices will still be shielded from closures, unless the USPS can meet all of the following strict criteria:

∑ Seniors and persons with disabilities would receive the same or substantially similar service, including access to prescription medication sent through the mail

∑ Jobs and businesses in the community would not suffer economic loss, and, the economic loss to the community resulting from the closure would not exceed the savings obtained by the Postal Service

∑ The area served by the post office has access to wired broadband Internet service

∑ And, the next nearest post office is no more than 10 miles driving distance, using roads with year-round access

Earlier this year, McCaskill stood outside a Missouri post office and announced that she would fight for the state's rural post offices at risk of being shuttered as the U.S. Postal Service seeks to cut expenses.

McCaskill, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Postal Service, is also working with her colleagues to better protect mail processing facilities from closure, and to preserve six-day mail delivery.

McCaskill's amendment could come to a vote as early as this week.

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