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Nelson joins call for extending moratorium on post office closings

May 3, 2012

Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson and a bipartisan group of 42 other senators today urged the U.S. Postal Service to extend a moratorium on its plans to close many mail processing centers and 3,700 mainly rural post offices, including 90 post offices in Nebraska, until postal reform legislation is enacted into law.

"Rural post offices, the services they provide, and the people who provide them, have great value to communities across Nebraska," said Senator Nelson. "Our local post offices play a special role in our communities, keeping us connected to our friends and families, and keeping businesses connected to their customers. They are an important part of our economy, serving every city, suburb and small town in Nebraska."

Nelson joined nearly three dozen Senate colleagues sending a letter today to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahue urging him to extend a moratorium on closings that expires on May 15. The U.S. Senate has passed a major reform bill, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, and is awaiting action by the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We are deeply concerned that the closing of these postal facilities prior to postal reform legislation being enacted would be devastating to communities around the country," the senators wrote. "This moratorium will provide the time needed to enact the reforms in the 21st Century Postal Service Act. Again, we strongly urge you to extend the current moratorium on the closing of postal facilities."

In addition to Nelson, the letter was signed by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey (D-PA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Tim Johnson (D-SD).

The text of the senators' letter follows:
May 2, 2012
The Honorable Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza S.W.
Washington, DC 20260-0010

Dear Postmaster General Donahoe,
We write you today to urge you to extend the current moratorium on the closing of post offices and mail processing facilities. As you know, the current moratorium is scheduled to end on May 15th.

On April 25th, the United States Senate passed S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act. We believe this bipartisan legislation will provide the United States Postal Service (USPS) with the flexibility and tools it needs to get back on the road to financial stability. The Senate included within this legislation a Sense of the Senate that the USPS should extend the current moratorium until enactment of the postal reform legislation.

While the USPS faces significant financial challenges, we believe that post offices provide social and economic benefits, particularly to rural communities. Rural citizens depend on the mail to manage their lives and stay connected with their government. A 2011 Commerce Department report shows that over 30 percent of U.S households did not have broadband Internet access at home and over 25 percent of households did not even use the Internet. Postal mail remains the one universal service connecting the American people to commerce, government, news, and social and civic institutions.

Preserving and maintaining a viable Postal Service and its ability to continue to serve the entire nation is an indispensable element for the entire postal industry, its workers, and most importantly the many small businesses and communities around the country who depend on a strong and reliable USPS.

We are deeply concerned that the closing of these postal facilities prior to postal reform legislation being enacted would be devastating to communities around the country. This moratorium will provide the time needed to enact the reforms in the 21st Century Postal Service Act. Again, we strongly urge you to extend the current moratorium on the closing of postal facilities.

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