The Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) passed legislation today that would help the United States Postal Service (USPS) change with the times.
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the bill would help protect rural post offices from closing, restructure postal rates and maintain Second Amendment rights. Enzi, who voted in favor of the final bill, believes that the legislation goes a long way to make the postal service viable by injecting competition into its business plan and helping get the Postal Service's costs under control, while ensuring that customers in rural states can still rely on service.
The committee unanimously adopted Enzi's amendment that would provide communities with the opportunity to present better ideas to the Postal Service to address costs and keep community post offices open.
According to Enzi, the last time postal reform was on the agenda, a list of post offices being considered for closure was presented without any discussion or idea of the costs associated with running those locations. Enzi's amendment would require the USPS to give communities 60 days to develop an alternative proposal for providing postal services to the community before any location can be closed.
"Any business is supposed to look at all of its costs every year, all the time," said Enzi. "The postal service should be no different. All of the employees and all of the people in the community should know the cost of running their post office and the cost of the individual jobs. That way the people who rely on the service can share their ideas for maintaining it while reducing costs at the same time."
Enzi's amendment requires the USPS to provide relevant information on the costs associated with its operations to postal customers and local governments, while providing the opportunity for ideas and plans for possible changes to be heard.
The committee voted unanimously to include an amendment in the bill that would allow individuals to carry firearms in parking lots of post offices in accordance with state and local laws. The postal service now has rules against any firearms anywhere on postal property and individuals are being prosecuted.
Though Enzi voted for the amendment, he was disappointed that the committee voted down Senator Rand Paul's, R-Ky., amendment that would have expanded the right to carry a firearm to all postal property.
"Imaginary lines should not take away our Constitutional rights," said Enzi.
Despite the controversy over reforming postal rates the committee was able to come to a bipartisan agreement that would avoid drastic rate increases. The amendment, which Enzi voted in favor of, gives the Postal Service more flexibility in designing its rate system starting in 2017, while preserving the role of the Postal Regulatory Commission in overseeing that process.
Enzi was pleased that both Republican and Democratic amendments were considered in the committee through regular order. The postal reform bill is now headed to the full Senate for consideration.