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 Suzanne BaldwinStates fill family caregiver void left by Congress Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Dem PAC bullish on Senate chances MORE (D-Wis.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDe Blasio headed to Iowa to speak at political fundraiser Yes, spills happen — but pipelines are still the safest way to move oil Why sexual harassment discussions include lawmakers talking about Bill Clinton’s past MORE (I-Vt.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterAnother perfect storm: Why we must act before flood insurance runs dry Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations 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 CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Pruitt to testify on EPA agenda at House, Senate hearings Senate confirms top air regulator at EPA 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 Dean BluntGOP senator: Capitol Hill's sexual harassment reporting protocol is 'totally inappropriate' Senate passes resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training Strange bedfellows on criminal justice reform could offer Trump a legislative win MORE (Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsStates fill family caregiver void left by Congress GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal MORE (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Republicans offer this impossible choice: Tax cuts or senior care Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore MORE (Utah), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Health Care: Initial Senate tax bill doesn't repeal ObamaCare mandate | 600K sign up for ObamaCare in first four days | Feds crack down on opioid trafficking Overnight Finance: Senate GOP unveils different approach on tax reform | House tax bill heads to floor | House leaders eye vote next week | AT&T denies pressure for CNN sale Adoption tax credit restored after conservative backlash MORE (N.D.), Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenators tear into controversial Trump environment nominee McCain backs Pentagon nominee despite concerns over defense industry ties GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate MORE (Okla.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (S.D.) — joined most Senate Democrats in signing on to the letter.