WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building on her efforts to improve mail delivery and service in rural communities in North Dakota and across the country, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp brought together the first bipartisan meeting of solely Senators from rural states to speak with the U.S. Postmaster General about the impact that mail processing facility closures and service standard reductions have had on families and communities throughout rural America.
Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee which oversees the U.S. Postal Service, brought together U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) to raise awareness about declining postal standards and the effects of closing mail processing facilities in rural communities across their states with U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan.
During the meeting, Heitkamp spoke about how the Postal Service is not meeting mail service standards throughout rural communities, highlighting how she has heard from North Dakotans through her Fix My Mail initiative that mail delivery times in the state are often three or four times longer than standards set by the agency. Heitkamp also pressed the Postal Service on the effectiveness of closing mail processing centers without a thorough understanding of the effects on rural communities. For the first time, the Postal Service committed to working on these issues to specifically better meet the needs of rural Americans. Brennan also said she would provide an assessment of the savings the Postal Service believes it gets from closing mail processing centers, which Heitkamp pressed her on during the meeting. Heitkamp also stressed that closing these processing centers further hurts rural communities and likely does not save as much as the Postal Service thought the closures would.
“Every day, when I come to work in the Senate, my priority is to stand up for rural America. It’s been very clear that the Postal Service is not meeting its standards of delivering mail on time in North Dakota or so many other rural states. And that has to change,” said Heitkamp. “That’s why I brought together this bipartisan group of Senators from rural states to meet with Postmaster General Brennan – to make sure the needs of rural America are met and that the actions taken by the Postal Service don’t continue to have dire and disproportional impacts on small towns across our country. This meeting was an important step in building a productive partnership with new Postal Service leadership and, perhaps most importantly, shows that the agency now finally understands the real challenges facing rural America. Moving forward, I’ll continue to hold the Postal Service accountable and keep pushing for a path forward to fix the rural mail delivery challenges in North Dakota and throughout the country.”
Heitkamp, who continues to push for comprehensive postal reform legislation that stands up for rural America, has consistently led efforts to make significant improvements to mail delivery and service throughout North Dakota’s rural communities:
- Gathered stories from North Dakotans about problems with mail delivery – In January 2014, Heitkamp launched her Fix My Mail initiative, a grassroots effort to hear from North Dakotans about issues they have encountered with delayed mail delivery and poor service from the U.S. Postal Service. She has received stories from more than 200 North Dakotans from across the state about these challenges they face every day.
- Pushed for Accountability and Transparency from the Postal Service – Last March, Heitkamp requested a Postal Service Office of Inspector General review of postal standards and employee issues in North Dakota and issue a report stating where the problems exist. The recently-released report found that for the past several years, the Postal Service failed to process and deliver mail in a timely fashion, lacked retail windows to meet demand, did not have a plan to address rapid population growth, overworked employees, and rarely met national service standards in the state.
- Stood up for Rural Postal Customers – After sharing stories she received through her Fix My Mail initiative with the Postal Service, Heitkamp successfully received commitments from the agency to improve mail service and delivery throughout North Dakota, including keeping more hours of operation at nearly 30 rural post offices in the state.
- Brought a Senate Chairman to North Dakota to Hear Postal Challenges Firsthand – Last June, Heitkamp brought U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), then-Chairman of the Senate Committee overseeing the Postal Service, to Williston to hear about the postal challenges North Dakotans face every day and efforts to improve service and delivery.