BURLINGTON, Vt., Sept. 4 – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has added his crucial backing to calls for a one-year moratorium on U.S. Postal Service plans to close up to 82 mail processing plants, slow down mail delivery and eliminate up to 15,000 jobs.
Reid added his signature to those of 50 other senators who signed a letter calling for a ban on Postal Service cuts as part of must-pass legislation to keep the government running into the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) organized the effort to block the cuts proposed by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
“This one-year moratorium will give Congress the time it needs to enact the comprehensive postal reforms that are necessary for the Postal Service to function effectively into the future,” the senators wrote in the letter to Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “At a time when our middle class is disappearing, the loss of 15,000 good-paying Postal Service jobs will harm our local communities and economies,” the senators added.
With Reid’s signature, a bipartisan majority of all senators now have signed the letter.
Despite misleading reports about the Postal Service’s supposed money woes, revenue outpaced expenses by almost $1 billion since the fall of 2012. Revenue from more package deliveries for online retailers has more than made up for fewer letters being mailed because of email and online bill paying. On paper, the Postal Service “deficit” is a result of an unprecedented requirement that it pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period into a fund that already has more than enough money to cover retirees’ health care needs.
The Postal Service claims it lost $46 billion since 2007, but those paper “losses” are almost entirely a result of the pre-funding mandate. “Let's be clear,” Sanders said. “The Postal Service is not going broke. Instead of slashing decent-paying jobs and slowing down mail, the Postal Service must be allowed to sell more products and offer more services that the American people need. We must also end the Bush-era mandate to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits. This mandate is responsible for all of the ‘losses’ at the Postal Service for the past two years.”
In addition to Majority Leader Reid, Senate leaders Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) signed the letter. So did Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); John Hoeven (R-N.D.); Mary Landrieu (D-La.); John Walsh (D-Mont.); Al Franken (D-Minn.); Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.); Debbie Stabenow (D- Mich.); Tim Johnson (D-N.D.); Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.); Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.); Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.); Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Kay Hagan (D-N.C.); Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii); Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); John Thune (R-S.D.); Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.); Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.); Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Mark Udall (D-Colo.); Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Susan Collins (R-Maine); Carl Levin (D-Mich.); Robert Casey (D-Pa.); Angus King (I-Maine); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); James Inhofe (R-Okla.); Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.); Ben Cardin (D-Md.); Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii); Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.); Corey Booker (D-N.J.); Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.).