Press release from Congressman Jared Huffman’s office:
Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), David McKinley (R- WV), Jose Serrano (D-NY), and Evan Jenkins (R-WV) today introduced the Stop Postal Closures Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation to end the misguided closure and consolidations of mail processing facilities across the country.
In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) began closing or consolidating mail processing plants across the country, including two facilities in Eureka and Petaluma. Mail processing plants are the central sorting hubs, and their elimination can mean that mail has to travel further before delivery.
Facility closures have been associated with delays in mail delivery, missed overnight mail deadlines, and reduced frequency of deliveries. These closures are particularly taxing on seniors, veterans, and rural communities who depend on timely deliveries for prescriptions and other services. While USPS temporarily halted these closures, they could begin again as soon as Spring 2016.
“We all want a modern, efficient Postal Service, but continuing to reduce service standards and close facilities is not the way to deliver for the American people,” said Rep. Huffman. “It is time to hold USPS accountable for its business actions and how they affect our constituents and their needs. That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan legislation to stop this reckless consolidation plan and give much-needed oversight of the Postal Service, while ensuring that any future closures are based on data and the unique priorities of our local communities.”
“Post office closures and reduced hours have hurt many rural West Virginia residents, and the consolidation of mail processing facilities threatens to limit their mail service even more. This legislation stops future mail facility closures and consolidations until they are carefully studied to ensure consumers are protected,” said Rep. Even Jenkins. “Rural residents, in particular, depend on the United States Postal Service to pay bills on time and stay connected, and I will work to protect this important service for them.”
“For too long, the Postal Service has closed facilities without adequate notice, input, or understanding of the impact that closure has on taxpayers,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that the USPS fully understands the impact their decisions have on local communities; strengthens the notification process so citizens can have their voices heard; and restores national service standards to improve delivery for all Americans. People in the Bronx and elsewhere have already been negatively affected by Postal Service decisions to close or sell facilities and to lower service standards, and it is time for Congress to act. I have fought for many years to make the Postal Service more accountable to the people they serve, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues in introducing this legislation today.”
The legislation would:
- Put a moratorium on current closures and consolidations;
- Establish a framework that any future closures must be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC);
- Creates a list of criteria and data that USPS must analyze including impact on small businesses, vote by mail voters, and unique geographic situations;
- Requires a robust public notification and comment period so stakeholders’ views are a part of the PRC’s review;
- Reinstate the July 1, 2012 mail delivery standards of the 1-3 day delivery, which was eliminated at the start of 2015 by USPS; and
- Empower the PRC to set annual performance benchmarks.
Rep. Huffman previously sent a letter to the USPS in opposition to their proposal to close the North Bay Processing and Distribution Center in Petaluma and the Eureka Customer Service Mail Processing Center.
He also convened public town hall meetings in August of 2014 in both Petaluma and Eureka to allow his constituents the opportunity to learn about the Postal Service’s proposed plan and provide an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed. Representatives from the USPS were invited to participate in these forums but declined to attend.