Five-Month Moratorium on Postal Service Cutbacks

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined senators from around the country today to announce that the U.S. Postal Service voluntarily agreed to their request for a five-month moratorium until May 15 on closing postal facilities.

The moratorium would give Congress more time to consider postal reform legislation, including a bill introduced by Sanders.

"I am pleased that the Postal Service has announced that it will impose a moratorium on closing or consolidating post offices and mail processing facilities.  This moratorium will give Congress the breathing room it needs to enact comprehensive postal reform and protect universal service while ensuring the postal service will succeed in the 21st century."

Sanders authored a letter signed by 22 senators calling for a similar moratorium to be imposed by Congress. The letter was sent to Senate leaders on Friday.

The announcement today follows a meeting yesterday between Sanders and several other senators with U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Thurgood Marshall. At the meeting, the senators expressed concern over the impact of reduced service and the loss of thousands of jobs.

The Postal Service is in the process of studying the potential closure of some 4,500 mostly-rural post offices, including 15 in Vermont.  In addition, the Postal Service is considering closing the mail processing facility in White River Junction, Vt., which would cost 245 jobs. 

Nationwide, as many as 100,000 jobs are at stake. The moratorium would prevent the Postal Service from closing facilities in Vermont and elsewhere until May 15, 2012.

The Postal Service in September announced plans to review its mail processing network in the hopes of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies.  The Postal Service is currently considering the elimination of overnight delivery and studying the possibility of closing 3,700 mostly rural post offices and 252 mail processing facilities.