U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) co-sponsored today the Postal Service Protection Act, which will address the United States Postal Service's financial problems, prevent rural post office closures, protect Saturday delivery services and save American jobs. The bill would directly protect the Clarksburg mail processing plant from closing.
"In West Virginia, especially in our rural areas, post offices are more than just places to send and receive mail -- they are truly the lifelines of their communities and the only way a town is able to stay connected," Senator Manchin said. "I have been working closely with local officials to keep the Clarksburg mailing center open and will remain in close contact with them throughout this process. In the meantime, Congress must consider the Postal Service Protection Act to help fix the Postal Service's financial problems while saving jobs, creating revenue and making sure our small businesses, seniors, veterans, and rural residents will continue to receive the mailing services they count on."
The Postal Service Protection Act will:
(1) Protect 6-day delivery. This bill would require the Postal Service to deliver mail on Saturdays. The Postal Service recently announced that it will be eliminating Saturday mail delivery beginning in August. Cutting six-day delivery is not a viable plan for the future. Providing fewer services and less quality will cause more customers to seek other options. Rural Americans, businesses, senior citizens and veterans will be hurt the most by ending Saturday mail.
(2) Ensure the timely delivery of mail and protect mail-processing facilities. The bill would re-establish overnight delivery standards for delivering first-class mail, which would ensure the timely delivery of mail, keep mail processing facilities open, and protect jobs.
(3) Protect Rural Post Offices. This bill would give the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent post offices from being closed based on the effect on the community and its employees. Right now, the PRC only has the authority to review a decision to close a post office, but it does not have any binding authority to prevent the closure, even if it finds the decision to close was flawed.
(4) Establish new ways the Postal Service can generate revenue, by ending the prohibition on providing new products and services, such as:
Providing notary services, new media services, issuance of licenses (drivers licenses, hunting licenses, fishing licenses);
Contracting with state and local agencies to provide new services;
Shipping wine and beer; and
Responding to the shift toward electronic mail and away from hard-copy mail.
This bill would also create a commission composed of successful business innovators, representatives of labor, and small businesses that would provide recommendations on how the Postal Service can generate new revenue to succeed in the 21st century.
(5) Fix the immediate fiscal shortfall of the Postal Service by allowing the Postal Service to recover pension overpayments. The Postal Service Protection Act solves the most immediate financial problem facing the Postal Service by eliminating the requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years. No other agency or company in America is required to pre-fund its retiree health benefits, especially on such an aggressive schedule. Since 2007, this pre-funding mandate is responsible for about 80 percent of the Postal Service's financial difficulties.