Tester announces 5-month delay of Postal Service closures

Delay gives lawmakers time to pass comprehensive postal reform

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today announced that Montana’s post offices and mail processing facilities will remain open until at least May 15.  The decision will delay possible closures of mail processing facilities, as well as many post offices throughout the state.

The five-month moratorium will give Congress more time to pass a long-term solution to stabilize the U.S. Postal Service.

Tester on Monday met with Postmaster General Patrick Donahue to discuss future options for the Postal Service, and recently called on the organization not to close any of its facilities while Congress works on comprehensive reform.

“Today’s announcement is a win for Montana, and credit belongs to the thousands of Montanans who raised their concerns about the importance of postal service and the jobs it supports in rural America,” Tester said.  “But we have more work to do.  I look forward to working on a long-term solution that keeps the Postal Service open for business and serving rural America.”

Tester announced today’s decision at a press conference where he reiterated the importance of rural post offices to small communities and vowed to find a balanced solution that doesn’t place the burden of reform on rural America.

The Postal Service is struggling financially largely due to a 2006 law – passed before Tester was a member of the Senate – which set a formula for the pre-funding of employee health benefits.  Tester says more time is needed to fix the 2006 law in a way that protects service for Montanans.

Tester, a member of the Senate committee that oversees the Postal Service, is actively involved in negotiations over the Postal Service’s future.  He recently amended the 21st Century Postal Service Act, legislation currently under consideration to prevent the Postal Service from closing post offices until it establishes a clear criteria for determining whether a post office should be closed and fully considers alternative ways to save money.

In August, the Postal Service announced plans to close 85 Montana post offices, and more recently recommended consolidating mail processing facilities in Kalispell, Missoula, Helena, Butte, and Wolf Point.

In response, Tester has directed his Montana staff to attend as many public outreach meetings as possible to gather input from Montanans.