Before moving forward with any plans to close the Kalispell mail processing facility, the U.S. Postal Service must listen to directions given by the U.S. Senate, Senator Jon Tester said today.
A Postal Service spokesman earlier this month said that Kalispell's facility could be closed as early as January 2013. But Tester and the Senate Appropriations Committee recently passed legislation blocking the Postal Service from closing any facilities until at least next fall.
"I share your frustration that the House of Representatives has failed to pass postal reform legislation," Tester told Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. "However, the failure of the House of Representatives does not excuse the Postal Service from responding to the Senate's call to maintain mail processing centers during the coming fiscal year."
The Postal Service is struggling financially in part due to a 2006 law -- enacted before Tester was a member of the Senate -- that required the Postal Service to prepay retirement benefits of postal employees at a rate higher than necessary. The Postal Service will miss a scheduled $5.5 billion payment due on Wednesday.
With Tester's support, the Senate passed a Postal Service reform bill in April that eliminates the pre-funding requirement as part of efforts to preserve the Postal Service. Tester said the House of Representatives needs to step up for Montana families and small businesses and pass the bill.
"Time is running out for the House to pass our reform bill and give some much-needed certainty to postal workers and the folks who rely on timely service to receive their letters, package, prescriptions and mail ballots," Tester said.
Kalispell is the only mail processing facility scheduled to be closed in Montana. Tester announced in May that he got the Postal Service to keep open its mail processing facilities in Butte, Helena and Wolf Point.
Tester, a member of the committee that oversees the Postal Service, kept the facilities open to preserve timely mail service in rural Montana and to protect more than 170 Montana postal workers from losing their jobs