BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug 14 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) organized an effort joined by 49 other U.S. senators who called today for a one-year moratorium on plans by the U.S. Postal Service to close mail processing plants and slow first-class mail delivery.
The senators said Congress should block a proposal by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to close up to 82 mail processing plants, slow mail service and eliminate up to 15,000 jobs. Their letter sent today urged leaders of a key Senate committee to include a ban on mail delivery cuts as part of must-pass legislation to keep the government running into the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
“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 a letter to Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Richard Shelby (R-La.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The letter was drafted and circulated by Sanders, Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).
“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 wrote.
“Slowing down mail delivery even further will hurt senior citizens on fixed incomes, small businesses and the entire economy and send the Postal Service into a death spiral,” Sanders added in a statement.
Despite misleading reports about the Postal Service’ supposed fiscal woes, revenue outpaced expenses by almost $1 billion since the fall of 2012. Rising revenues are partly due to an increase in package deliveries for online retailers. That growth has more than made up for fewer letters being mailed because of email and online bill paying. What puts the Postal Service into a deficit on paper is an onerous and unprecedented requirement that it pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period. Even without the $5.5 billion annual payment, which hasn’t been made for three years, the retirement fund already has more than enough money to cover retirees’ health care needs.
Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate leaders Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) 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.).
To read the letter, click here.
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