Smith and McIntyre Introduce Rural Postal Services Act
Washington, D.C.– Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) introduced H.R. 2615, the Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act along with Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC). The bill would ensure rural service is not inappropriately targeted by capping rural closures and consolidations at 5 percent of total closures and consolidations in any given year.
“In rural America, the post office is the center of the community and provides an important link to the rest of the nation,” said Smith. “Closing smaller retail locations will not solve the Postal Service’s serious financial problems, and given the importance of universal service, rural post offices should not be disproportionately targeted. This bill is a commonsense solution which would help the Postal Service uphold its mission to serve all Americans while it addresses its long-term fiscal challenges.”
In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced it was considering the closure or consolidation of 3,652 postal facilities, 90 of which were located in Nebraska. It was estimated closing all of these post offices would have saved the Postal Service about 4 percent of USPS’s $5 billion shortfall in 2011.
In addition to closure caps for rural facilities, the Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act would set guidelines for closing or consolidating any post office to ensure those affected by such changes would maintain access to the Postal Service.
Under the bill, USPS would be required to provide 60 days’ notice of their intention to close or consolidate, and must survey affected customers to determine preferences for alternative access to postal services. If USPS is unable to provide access through the alternative preferred by survey participants or the preferred option is cost prohibitive, USPS would be required to provide access to postal services through different means and give written explanation for why the preferred option was not possible.
Smith and McIntyre co-chair the bipartisan Congressional Rural Caucus which provides a forum to find workable solutions to the unique issues facing rural Americans.