By Bernie Becker - 08/14/14 04:33 PM EDT
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.
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 BaldwinDem introduces bill to block new government hacking powers The Trail 2016: The campaign that never sleeps Dem senator: 'I am a human being and a superdelegate’ MORE (D-Wis.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersWasserman Schultz fights to keep her job DNC chair: I'm 'focused on doing my job' Auto workers union endorses Clinton MORE (I-Vt.) and Jon TesterJon TesterWasserman Schultz fights to keep her job It's time we empower veterans with entrepreneurial skills Dem introduces bill to block new government hacking powers 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 CarperFinancial industry spars with retailers over data breach bill Week ahead: Cyber Command in the spotlight Lawsuit exposes M cybertheft through banking software 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 BluntCruz: VA secretary 'should resign' Overnight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Senate’s first female combat vet: VA secretary must resign MORE (Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP lawmaker: 'Republicans were wrong’ to block Garland Senate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds Senators unveil bill to overhaul apprenticeship programs MORE (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Senate GOP gears up for fight over Gitmo transfers House Republicans press case for impeaching IRS commissioner MORE (Utah), John HoevenJohn HoevenSenate panel approves funding boost for TSA Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time Bison declared national mammal MORE (N.D.), James InhofeJames InhofeGOP senators propose sending ISIS fighters to Gitmo Overnight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Senate GOP gears up for fight over Gitmo transfers MORE (Okla.) and John ThuneJohn ThuneOvernight Tech: Senate panel poised to advance email privacy bill Senators to House: FAA reauthorization would enhance airport security Overnight Tech: Rubio, Cruz take up internet domain fight MORE (S.D.) — joined most Senate Democrats in signing on to the letter.