WASHINGTON – By a vote of 62-to-37, the U.S. Senate today passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act, S. 1789, which will preserve delivery standards nationwide and put the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on a path to financial stability. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) called passage of the bipartisan bill a “victory for individuals and businesses throughout our nation that depend on timely mail delivery.”
Senator Cardin insisted that the reform bill include provisions maintaining delivery standards that Americans have come to expect. Maintaining delivery standards is particularly important to small businesses, farmers and a significant number of rural and elderly Americans who rely on their mail delivery for life-saving medications, important business documents and even shipment of live animals.
To maintain those delivery standards, including overnight delivery, the U.S. Postmaster General has informed Senator Cardin that the Easton and Cumberland processing facilities will need to remain open.
“There is no doubt we need postal reform, but we have to be smart about how we do it,” said Senator Cardin. “Drastic cutbacks or a slash-and-burn approach would only further destabilize the postal service and worsen its financial position rather than improve it. The reform bill that was passed by the Senate with bipartisan support provides important financial relief for the USPS while also preserving jobs and important mail delivery services in our communities.”
The following provisions were included in the postal reform bill:
- Limitations on Closing Post Offices. This legislation creates safeguards to ensure that any post office closures are the result of a process that takes into account the unique needs of communities, particularly small towns and rural areas.
- Preservation of Overnight Delivery Standards. A requirement that the Postal Service retain a modified overnight delivery standard for three years to ensure that communities across the country continue to receive overnight delivery of first-class mail. A maximum delivery standard of three days would be maintained for first-class mail sent anywhere in the continental United States.
- Safeguards before Closing Mail Processing Facilities. Maintenance of a modified overnight delivery standard means that fewer processing facilities will need to be closed. Where closures or consolidations may be needed, the Postal Service must consider downsizing rather than closing the facility.
- Limitations on Five-Day Delivery. The bill would prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any plan to eliminate Saturday delivery for at least two years. After two years, implementation could only move forward if the Postal Service has first attempted to increase revenue and cut costs through other means. In addition, prior to eliminating Saturday delivery, the Postal Service must also identify communities that may be disproportionately affected by five-day delivery and develop steps to lessen any negative impact.