An amendment was slipped into the Keystone XL pipeline Senate bill that would halt the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to close mail processing facilities across the country this year.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, introduced the amendment to the contentious Senate bill, which would put a colossal wrinkle in the agency’s long-term aims to cut costs and get the agency’s unstable financial prospects in order.
The USPS intends to close 82 mail processing facilities this year, despite many attempts from agency’s union and other groups to stop it. An estimate 15,000 employees will be affected by it.
An analysis by Government Executive determined it could result in the loss of 7,320 jobs.
The closures could also cripple postal service delivery.
“Few people seem to be aware of the devastating effect the plant closures would have on the nation’s mail system,” American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein recently said. “If the plants are closed or consolidated, it will mean the end of overnight mail delivery in this country.”
Sen. Stabenow’s amendment would delay the closures for two years. Twelve other U.S. senators supported the measure.
“The post office provides a critical basic service to everyone no matter where you live. Closing facilities and cutting services will lead to delays that will harm Michigan businesses and families,” Sen. Stabenow said in a statement. “I remain committed to stopping closures and ending a requirement by law that the Postal Service overfund retiree health care, which is the biggest reason for its recent operating losses.”
It is not clear at this time how the amendment faired after the Senate passed the Keystone XL pipeline bill in late January. Occasionally, amendments get stripped out of bills during “horse trading” negotiations prior to putting a bill to the floor for vote by the whole legislative body. The Senate voted 62-36, with only a few Democrats supporting the measure.
However, it appears the bill has little chance of becoming law. President Obama has repeatedly threatened to veto the measure if it crosses his desk.
It is unclear how the amendment will fair amid this latest legislative battle among Democrats and Republicans as well as the White House. But it is another indication that some members of the legislative branch want to prevent the USPS from moving forward with its plan.
In recent years, the USPS has closed roughly 141 mail processing facilities nationwide. The agency claims this has resulted in an annual cost savings of $865 million. However, it also had severe negative consequences on the agency’s workforce.
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