Tester secures major concession from top Postal Service official

Donahoe to Senator: No postal closures while Congress debates reform bill

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester, the nation’s number one defender of reliable mail service in rural America, today secured a major victory for Montana’s rural mail customers.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe pledged to Tester that the Postal Service would not close any more post offices or mail processing facilities while Congress debates postal reform legislation. The Postal Service recently closed or consolidated numerous mail facilities in Montana – leading to significant delivery delays for Montanans.

“I did pretty extensive travelling in August and people weren’t talking about delays of one day, I heard three, four, or five days,” Tester told Donahoe. “Will there be further consolidation of mail processing facilities or post offices while we debate this bill?”

“None, any further changes would require service standard changes, and we will not do that,” Donahoe told Tester.

Donahoe’s pledge came as Tester questioned the Postmaster General at a Governmental Affairs hearing examining new legislation to put the Postal Service on solid financial ground. The Postal Service is struggling financially in part due to the 2006 law – enacted before Tester was a member of the Senate – that requires the Postal Service to prepay retirement benefits of postal employees at a rate higher than necessary.

Tester, who successfully fought off recent Postal Service efforts to eliminate six-day delivery and shut down Missoula’s mail processing facility, also reminded Donahoe that rural Montanans rely on timely and efficient mail service.

“The best customers the Postal Service has live in rural America – they really do depend upon it,” Tester said. “We need to find the right solution for them.”

Today’s hearing examined the Postal Reform Act of 2013, recently introduced by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Tester has serious concerns about the bill because it lacks the protections for six-day delivery and rural customers that were included in last year’s postal reform bill that he supported and passed the Senate with a bipartisan majority. He has cosponsored alternative legislation, the Postal Service Protection Act (S.316), that would put the Postal Service on solid financial footing while preventing the kinds of service delivery delays that have characterized recent Postal Service policy.