WASHINGTON, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that he will be offering an amendment to major legislation overhauling the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to save rural post offices now targeted for closure. Merkley’s amendment would require that a post office closure cannot result in more than a ten mile distance between post offices, measured on roads with year-round access.
The amendment is co-sponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
“Small towns in Oregon depend on post offices for reliable mail delivery, critical services and economic opportunities. They are the heart of our rural communities. Closing these post offices would be a tremendous blow,” said Merkley.
“Rural America is fortunate to have Senator Merkley fighting to keep post offices in our more remote towns and communities, where travel is often difficult. Continued Postal Service in the hinterland will protect the health, prosperity and relevance of our citizens in today’s world where medicine, commerce, and in some cases, our votes are passed through the mails. We urge Congress to support Senator Merkley in this vital effort,” said Joe Laurance, Douglas County Commissioner.
Last year, the USPS announced it was considering closing 3700 post offices across the country, 41 of which were in Oregon. Merkley and others urged the USPS to reconsider the closures; subsequently, 21 Oregon post offices were removed from the list. Twenty now remain, eleven of which are more than 10 miles from the next nearest facility.
Recently, Merkley joined a group of senators urging the Postmaster General to consider other cost savings measures that would close the USPS budget shortfall without closing rural post offices. The postal service bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor later this week or shortly after the Senate’s April home state work period.