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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today passed S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, legislation to help preserve the soundness of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The bill includes language that expands upon an amendment originally proposed by U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to make certain rural communities are not forgotten as USPS restructures. Action is now required by the U.S. House of Representatives before the bill can be signed by the President and the provisions take effect.

"The postal reform bill will provide USPS with flexibility to restructure and save billions of dollars – while preventing taxpayer dollars from being used for a bailout.” Sen. Moran said. “I am very pleased the bill passed by the Senate expands on critical language I successfully had adopted in committee to provide an answer to the question so many Kansans have been asking: ‘what do we have to do to save our post office?’ Once passed by the House and signed into law the language will help protect rural post offices by defining a structure for what the Postal Service must consider as it conducts the individual post office feasibility studies – and stops the closure of any post offices until that happens. I am hopeful the House will consider this bill in a timely fashion."

Prior to passage of S. 1789, and as part of a plan to bring the Postal Service to more solid financial footing, the Postmaster General announced that USPS was considering the closure of more than 3,600 post offices nationwide – many of those in rural communities. One-hundred and thirty four of those post offices are in Kansas.

S. 1789 will require USPS to set minimum standards of service and alternatives to closure that must be considered prior to closing any post office. These include:

  • Geography, including distance to other postal services and maximum time a customer should be expected to travel;
  • Population, including density and age demographics; and
  • A requirement to serve remote areas, as well as communities with transportation challenges such as inclement weather or natural geographic obstacles.

Once signed into law, the language will prevent the closure of any post offices, including those in Kansas, until those standards are in place and are considered in each case. The bill also requires USPS to consider alternatives to closure prior to closing any post office, such as reducing the number of hours the post office is open, or procuring a contract to provide retail postal services in an alternative establishment such as the local hardware or grocery store.

The Postal Regulatory Commission has found that maintaining rural post offices only amounts to 0.7 percent of the Postal Service’s budget. Therefore, reducing service to rural communities will have little benefit to the USPS’ bottom line while bringing much hardship to rural communities.

Sen. Moran is a member of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Postal Service.