Senators seek to block USPS facility closures

Exactly half of the Senate is calling on Congress to block the U.S. Postal Service from shuttering dozens of processing centers, saying such a move would hurt consumers that rely on the mail.

In a letter to appropriators, a bipartisan group of 50 senators said that any deal struck to fund the government this September should place a one-year moratorium on the service’s plans for consolidating its processing network.

The USPS said more than a month ago that, starting in January, it would consolidate as many as 82 processing centers, adding to the 141 processing plants that the agency has closed in recent years.

"The wave of closures will directly impact 37 states across our nation, and more importantly, the citizens who count on the Postal Service to be reliable," the mostly Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter organized by Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinSteel industry urges House panel to adopt 'Buy America' rules Major progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 MORE (D-Wis.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersOPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? OPINION | They told us to abandon ObamaCare — then came the resistance OPINION | Shailene Woodley: US should run on renewable energy by 2050 MORE (I-Vt.) and Jon TesterJon TesterVulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 'Kate's Law' battle shifts to the Senate, testing Dems Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-Mont.).

The Postal Service, which lost $2 billion in its most recent quarter despite increasing revenues, has long urged Congress to pass legislation to give it more leeway to both cut costs and grow new revenue streams.

Agency officials blamed the logjam on Capitol Hill for their decision to make the further consolidations, which they said would save in the neighborhood of $750 million a year.

Top lawmakers like House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Tom CarperTom CarperGovernors-turned-senators meet to talk healthcare Overnight Healthcare: GOP'S repeal-only plan quickly collapses in Senate Dem leaders amp up calls for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes MORE (D-Del.) have worked for years on postal reform legislation, but have yet to get a bill to President Obama’s desk.

The USPS has asked for, among other things, the ability to only deliver packages on Saturday and relief from a requirement that it prepay for future retiree healthcare.

But the senators on the letter said that the consolidations would also lead to the loss of 15,000 jobs, and further slow down delivery times.

The USPS largely did away with next-day letter delivery with its first wave of processing center consolidation. The agency also says this next round of consolidations won’t lead to any layoffs, and that “every effort will be made” to find new jobs for those at plants that are closing.

Democrats and even Republicans from rural states have resisted the Postal Service’s efforts to shutter facilities. Six GOP senators — Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Healthcare: Trump plays hardball on ObamaCare | Senators revive negotiations | CBO says repeal without replace would cost 32M insurance White House working with moderates on new Medicaid proposal Senate GOP revives negotiation over ObamaCare repeal and replace MORE (Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsThe GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan OPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama MORE (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchSenate panel advances Trump's tax policy nominee Healthcare debacle raises pressure for GOP on taxes GOP frets over stalled agenda MORE (Utah), John HoevenJohn HoevenMcCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty McCain diagnosis looms over GOP healthcare talks This week: ObamaCare repeal faces latest setback in Senate MORE (N.D.), James InhofeJames InhofeMcCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty GOP signals infrastructure bill must wait Lobbying World MORE (Okla.) and John ThuneJohn ThuneSenate panel won’t vote on bill to boost ethanol Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan McCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty MORE (S.D.) — joined most Senate Democrats in signing on to the letter.