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Public Statements

Lifting of Moratorium on Postal Closures

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Alabama (Ms. Sewell) for 5 minutes.

Ms. SEWELL. I rise today in support of America's postal workers, small businesses, senior citizens, and rural communities across this Nation. I stand before this Chamber gravely concerned about the future of the United States Postal Service and the impact of its fiscal crisis on communities across America.

The Postal Service is an iconic American institution woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. For more than 200 years, the men and women of the United States Postal Service have fulfilled their mission to deliver universal, trusted, timely, and effective service to the American people. Americans depend on the postal service, rain or shine, six days a week, from Montana to Alabama, from New York to California, from Florida to Alaska. Whether it's overnight, flat rate, first class, the United States Postal Service delivers.

Today, the Postal Service is teetering on the brink of insolvency and its future remains uncertain. Significant declines in first-class mail volume, evolving consumer trends, and increasing expenditures and operating costs mean that the Postal Service must reduce its footprint, reorganize, and take drastic measures to remain viable and competitive in the 21st century.

On May 15, the moratorium on postal closure will be lifted and thousands of post offices and mail processing facilities across this country will be targeted for closure. If Congress does not act, the lifting of this moratorium could mark the beginning of a slow and painful process of downsizing, layoffs, and reorganization for the U.S. Postal Service. We must take swift and decisive action to create a more efficient business model for the United States Postal Service. I believe that an investment in the future of the Postal Service is an investment in our economy, in small businesses, and in the American people. It requires our prompt attention and deserves our immediate action.

So much is at stake in this debate over postal reform. We know that reform is necessary, given the current market reality. But we cannot reform the postal service on the backs of the rural and underserved communities throughout this country. For so many of these communities, the post office is the meeting place--the place where you send your packages and receive your medicine.

The lifting of the moratorium on May 15 is an issue of utmost concern to the constituents that I represent in Alabama. In towns like Oak Hill, Magnolia, and Sawyerville, Alabama, the local post office is much more than a place for sending and receiving mail. Post offices are vital lifelines for these rural, isolated communities. These lifelines must be preserved and protected. I am committed to ensuring that we as Americans have access to affordable, reliable, and efficient postal service.

Consider the ripple effect and the economic impact of the closure of a post office and how that may affect an entire community. Imagine small town America, where the local post office lies at the heart of the community and is an integral part of its history and identity. This is the case in many of the communities across my district. The fact is, the closure of postal offices will devastate small towns like Gainesville, Coy, and Myrtlewood, Alabama, and so many across this Nation.

Yes, we must all buckle up. We must all decide to show fiscal responsibility. And in these market conditions, we know that reductions are necessary. But surely we can do something to make sure that these reductions are not on the backs of the rural, underserved, and underprivileged communities. Many of the postal services that are being offered are irreplaceable in these communities. For seniors who can't leave their homes, mail carriers deliver lifesaving medication. And for small businesses, postal services like bulk and flat-rate mail enable them to grow and create jobs.

The United States Postal Service provides Americans with universal and invaluable service, and I urge my colleagues to come together and pass a bipartisan comprehensive plan for the future of the United States Postal Service that will not disproportionately affect underserved communities.

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