Missoula Current: Tester introduces bill to block USPS move from Missoula to Spokane

A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Jon Tester would stop the U.S. Postal Service from relocating its processing and distribution center from Missoula to Spokane and prohibit the “unnecessary” consolidation of mail processing centers nationwide.

The Protecting Access to Rural Carriers for Every Location (PARCEL) Act was introduced just days after the Postal Service announced a final decision to move some of its operations to Spokane.

Tester criticized the decision and has brought forward legislation that would prevent the Postal Service from carrying out the move.

“The Postal Service is critical to Montana’s small businesses, seniors and veterans – and shortsighted decisions like relocating Missoula’s outgoing mail processing operations out-of-state won’t work for folks in rural America,” Tester said in a statement.

While the bill would prohibit the consolidation of mail processing operations in most occasions, it does offer exceptions. Among them, a consolidation could be carried out if it doesn’t result in a processing center being moved outside state boundaries, and if a geographical review is completed and considers mountain passes.

It also requires that public input “reflects favorably” on a potential move. All three criteria must be met, Tester said.

“USPS leadership has failed to listen to the people of Montana time and time again, and it’s time to put a stop to their attack on service in rural America,” Tester said. “Our bipartisan legislation will bring full operations back to Missoula.”

According to the USPS’s current plan, the Kent Street facility in Missoula will remain open and modernized as a local center. The USPS plans to invest more than $12 million into the facility, “which will result in expanded and streamlined package and mail processing and distribution capabilities.”

The agency further stated that its investment in the Missoula facility is part of the Postal Service’s 10-year Delivering for America plan to improve organizational and operational processes, and actively make the Postal Service “an efficient, high-performing, world-class logistics and delivery provider.”