Reid joins effort to stop postal closures

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man Nevada New Members 2019 Meet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time MORE (D-Nev.) has joined an effort to block the U.S. Postal Service from closing dozens of processing centers, increasing the odds of a congressional debate over postal operations this month.

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Reid joined a letter sent last month by 50 other senators urging senior Senate appropriators to include a one-year moratorium on postal closures in any stopgap deal to fund the government.

Government funding expires at the end of the month, and agreeing to keep the government running will be atop the to-do list for both the House and the Senate when lawmakers return to Washington next week.

Reid’s backing of the efforts to stop the shuttering of mail processing facilities adds another wrinkle to those negotiations.

The expiration of the Export-Import Bank and potential administrative action from President Obama on immigration could also complicate government funding negotiations, weeks before lawmakers face voters in November.

The Postal Service said this summer that it would start consolidating as many as 82 processing facilities at the beginning of 2015, on top of the 141 the agency has already shut down in recent years.

Postal officials argue that the consolidations will help them save hundreds of millions of dollars a year and streamline USPS operations.

The agency lost $2 billion in its most recent quarter, despite a jump in revenue. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has repeatedly urged Congress to come together on a broader restructuring of postal operations, but leading proposals in both chambers have stalled.

Lawmakers such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: Drug industry nervous about Grassley | CDC warns public not to eat romaine lettuce | Sanders unveils new drug pricing bill Sanders and Khanna have a plan to lower your drug prices 2020 Democrats challenge Trump's use of troops at Mexico border MORE (I-Vt.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair Mellman: The triumph of partisanship MORE (D-Mont.) and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSchumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Number of LGBT lawmakers in Congress hits double digits Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle MORE (D-Wis.) say the increased revenue illustrate that the USPS shouldn’t be cutting facilities so aggressively.

The three senators spearheaded the August letter seeking to attach a moratorium to a spending bill, an effort joined by Democrats mostly and a handful of prominent Republicans.

“This 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 senators wrote.

But both the Postal Service and Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Health Care: Top Trump refugee official taking new HHS job | Tom Price joins new Georgia governor's transition | FDA tobacco crackdown draws ire from the right Company hiked price for opioid overdose treatment 600 percent: Senate report Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires MORE (Del.), one of the leading Democrats working on a broader postal reform measure, have made clear that they’ll fight against an effort to tie government funding to the moratorium.

Dave Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said last month that the agency was “disappointed by the recent effort to block our ongoing initiative to remove excess capacity from our mail processing network.”

“It would be unfortunate if this action were to impede our current progress,” Partenheimer added.

In a statement of his own, Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, warned his colleagues against measures like the moratorium and urged them to work with him on a larger overhaul.

Carper crafted a postal reform bill with Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (R-Okla.) that passed his committee but has since stalled.

“This latest round of closures isn’t the first time the U.S. Postal Service has had to implement potentially damaging cost-cutting measures on its own in order to reduce costs,” Carper said last month. “In the absence of comprehensive postal reform, it probably won’t be the last.”

“If my colleagues want to address these concerns for the long-haul, I urge them to join me this September as we continue our efforts to fix the serious, but solvable, financial challenges facing the Postal Service,” the Delaware Democrat added.