The Senate-passed bill (S.1789) would save about half of the processing centers from closure and place a one-year moratorium on closing rural post offices. Post offices located more than 10 miles from the next closest mail facility would generally be protected from closure, under the legislation.
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins. (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the authors of the bill, wrote a letter to Donahoe saying any closures before the enactment of legislation would be “counterproductive.”
“The legislation that is ultimately enacted by Congress could bar some of the planned closures or make many of them financially unnecessary,” the senators wrote in the letter dated April 30.
A USPS spokesman said the agency did not have a comment at this time.
The Senate bill, passed April 25, refunds the Postal Service overpayments it made to its federal retirement system, restructures how the agency prepays for retirees’ health benefits and allows USPS to offer buyouts to about 100,000 retirement-eligible employees. The bill also gives the Postal Service authority to negotiate with its unions about moving employees out of the federal health insurance program into its own program.
The House has not yet passed a bill, and the four senators have also sent letters to House leaders urging them to work swiftly on postal reform legislation.
The House bill (H.R.2309) would allow USPS to use nearly $11 billion in surplus retirement contributions and increase employees’ contributions for health and life insurance premiums.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the bill’s sponsor, said the senators’ request to delay postal closings was “inappropriate.”
“Rather than letting an objective and independent process continue on, senators would inject parochial politics into the Postmaster General’s decision-making,” Issa said in an emailed statement to Federal News Radio.
A spokesman for Issa said no vote was scheduled yet on the House’s version of the postal bill.
Federal News Radio’s Emily Kopp and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-9 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.