By Christopher Goins - 08/07/11 11:40 AM EDT
A large majority of post offices that have been targeted for closure are in Republican districts.
More than 2,500 of these post offices are in GOP districts, while about 1,000 are in districts represented by Democrats, according to a review by The Hill. There were fewer than 100 stores where the district could not be determined because the zip code is represented by lawmakers in both parties.
The closures would save about $200 million annually for the ailing USPS, which has urged the end of its Saturday service.
Even though the closures would affect more Republican districts, a larger number of Democrats have spoken out against the USPS’s proposal.
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Members who have balked include Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
Most of these members represent rural states and districts. However, Green has claimed that urban and minority areas are being singled out.
Eight states have more than 100 post office stores under review. Illinois ranks first, with 176 locations, followed by Texas (172), Missouri (157), Arkansas (137) and Kansas (132).
At a recent press conference, Postmaster General Patrick Donahue emphasized the fairness of the process: “There are no decisions around politics or any of that stuff.”
Mounting financial pressures have led the USPS to make these moves, as more people are conducting business and paying their bills online.
The USPS announced on Friday that it ended the third quarter of the fiscal year with a net loss of $3.1 billion.
Many of the targeted offices will be replaced by Village Post Offices — retail outlets offering postal products that will be operated by third parties rather than USPS. Most, but not all, of the USPS targeted sites would be replaced by Village Post Offices.
“Our infrastructure was built to handle more demand than we have today,” said Dean Granholm, vice president of delivery and post office operations.
It will take four to six months for the post offices to transform/close. Postal experts note that Congress and postal unions could seek to block the closures.
Richard Geddes, an associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornel University, said, “The Postal Service overall has done a good job figuring out how to decrease costs. A lot of these rural postal offices are simply losing money.”
He added: "The problem isn't post office managers, it's Congress that does not give the Postal Service the commercial flexibility it needs." Geddes supports discontinuing Saturday service.
There are a handful of bills pending in Congress that call for a revamp of the USPS. Donahue has endorsed legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).
In a recent press release, Carper said, "The Postal Service cannot win this fight alone, Congress and the Administration need to work together quickly to give the Postal Service the freedom it needs to save itself before it's too late."
Carper is chairman of a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction of the USPS.
Margaret Rawson and Jake Interrante contributed to this report.