WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved the “21st Century Postal Service Act” today, including a bipartisan amendment introduced by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) that will provide rural communities facing post office or postal processing facility closures with an advocate in the process.  Senator Blunt released the following statement regarding the passage of this amendment to the postal reform bill:

“As the U.S. Postal Service continues to face serious fiscal problems, we need to consider all possible options before closing post offices and processing centers. Rural communities and small towns in Missouri and across the country rely heavily on the U.S. Postal Service every day and deserve to have their voices heard throughout the process.

“I applaud the passage of this bipartisan amendment to the postal reform bill that will provide communities facing postal closures with a citizens’ advocate to represent their interests. Working together to balance citizens’ needs with the Postal Service’s serious financial challenges, we can achieve an outcome that will protect the mail delivery service for the rural communities and small towns that make up America.”

Specifically, the amendment allows for the appointment of a non-paid citizen advocate to represent rural communities facing a post office or postal processing facility closure or consolidation. The advocate will represent the community’s interests in closure proceedings and provide for greater collaboration between the Postal Service and local communities as they explore opportunities to strengthen services and reduce costs.

The unpaid representative will have access to documents, data, and reports related to the proposed closure. In addition, the advocate will have authority to appeal a final decision on closure to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) if there is concern the closure would adversely affect service standards. Under current law, the U.S. Postal Service is only required to hold one community meeting during the required minimum 120-day period in which a closure is considered.

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