(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill today to address the most serious financial burden threatening to push the Postal Service into default. At the same time, the bill also prevents the Postal Service from closing the most remote rural Post Offices.
"The Postal Service has serious budget troubles to tackle, and Congress has a responsibility to play its part. This bill provides the life preserver the Postal Service needs to stay above water while we work together to find longer-term solutions to preserve the postal services and jobs Montanans depend on," Baucus said.
Baucus’ bill builds on legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by adding the protection for rural offices. Postal workers recently rallied in support of the House bill at Post Offices across Montana.
Baucus’ Bill does two things:
1. Prevents the Postal Service from closing any Post Office where another office is not available within 10 miles
The Postal Service has claimed that nationwide 90 percent of the post offices they are studying for closure are within 10 miles of another post office. Baucus has pointed out that among the 85 rural Montana offices the Post Office is studying, approximately 90 percent are actually farther than 10 miles from another office. And in some cases the next nearest office is also being studied for closure.
2. Provide the Postal Service approximately $7 billion in financial relief to avoid default this year
The Postal Service is currently required to pre-fund it’s retiree health benefits. Postmaster Patrick Donahoe has said the upcoming $5.5 billion payment threatens to push the Postal Service into default. At the same time, it is estimated the Postal Service has overpaid into another retirement fund, the Federal Employee Retirement System, by approximately $6.9 billion. Baucus’ bill would require the Office of Personnel Management to calculate the exact overpayment the Postal Service has made and use that money to cover the Postal Service’s current payment into the retiree health benefits fund and ease the burden of next year’s payment. Baucus also supported a provision in the recently passed Continuing Resolution to delay the immediate health benefits payment while Congress works towards a longer-term solution.
Full text of Baucus’ bill is available HERE.