May 03 2012
Without action, the moratorium ends on May 15
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today joined a bipartisan group of 43 Senators in a letter urging the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to extend its current moratorium on post office closures until after a postal reform bill is signed into law. The current moratorium is scheduled to expire on May 15.
“Communities across West Virginia and the nation are facing great uncertainty about the future of their post offices,” Senator Manchin said. “Right now there are 3,700 post offices that could face closure nationwide when the current moratorium expires, including 150 in West Virginia. In our rural areas, these post offices are more than just places to send and receive mail – they are truly the lifelines of their communities and the only way a town is able to stay connected. I will continue doing everything in my power to ensure that the Postal Service does not balance its books on the backs of our rural communities.”
In April, the Senate passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act to address the massive deficit facing the USPS. Senator Manchin did not support the bill because it did not do enough to prevent the closure of 3,700 postal facilities nationwide or to protect 35,000 jobs at mail processing facilities across the country that could also close. Senator Manchin offered an amendment that would have prohibited any of these facilities from closing for two years, but the amendment failed 43-53.
The 21st Century Postal Service Act did include a provision offered by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and co-sponsored by Senator Manchin, that would prohibit rural post offices from closing for a period of one year.
“While the Postal Service reform bill that passed the Senate is by no means perfect, it does offer some measure of protection to our rural post offices – guaranteeing that they will be able to stay open for at least one year -- and that’s better than nothing,” Senator Manchin said. “We need to provide some assurance that our postal facilities won’t be forced to close their doors before the Postal Service reform bill is signed into law.”
- The Postal Service is currently facing a shortfall of $20 billion.
- Closing 3,700 post offices – including 150 in West Virginia – would only save the Postal Service $200 million, which is 1 percent of what is needed to get their finances in order and is about the same amount of money we spend in one day in Afghanistan.
- Senator Manchin has urged the Postal Service to achieve savings in ways that will not affect services on the front lines, including eliminating excess rental space, cutting executive compensation, and reducing advertising expenditures on luxuries like sponsorship of a NASCAR team and a Tour de France team.
- While the Senate passed the Postal Service reform bill in April, action is still being awaited in the House of Representatives.
The letter to Postmaster General Donahue is attached.
A map illustrating the 150 West Virginia post offices that could face closure is attached.