Missouri senator says USPS uses “emergency suspension” to close post offices indefinitely

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is demanding answers from the United States Postal Service (USPS) about the status of the Laurie, Missouri postal facility that was abruptly closed in January under USPS’ “emergency suspension” process, which is supposed to be temporary.

USPS told Laurie officials that a decision on reopening the postal facility would be made by September, but that has not yet occurred. USPS also gave conflicting information to Laurie officials and McCaskill’s office about why a decision has not been made.

“Laurie residents deserve answers now on what’s going on with their postal facility—and USPS certainly shouldn’t be giving me different information than what it’s giving to my constituents,” McCaskill said. “I’m committed to getting to the bottom of this issue and working to ensure that situations like this don’t happen to more Missouri postal facilities.”

USPS can make an “emergency suspension” decision to temporarily close a postal facility with little notice, but they frequently remained closed for years, if they are ever reopened at all. The Laurie, MO postal facility was closed under “emergency suspension” in January, and Laurie officials have yet to hear from USPS about if and when the postal facility will be reopened. The Mayor of Laurie said that USPS told Laurie officials that it could not make a decision yet because of a moratorium on opening certain types of postal facilities, but USPS told McCaskill that reopening these postal facilities can be done on a case-by-case basis. “When communities lose their long established retail postal facility, even temporarily, those communities deserve accurate, ongoing updates from the Postal Service stating when service may resume or whether any postal retail services will return at all,” wrote McCaskill in a letter to the Postmaster General.

McCaskill also asked USPS to add its support to her bipartisan legislation that would prevent the Postal Service from using its “emergency suspension” process to indefinitely close postal facilities without notice to the community and opportunity to appeal. McCaskill introduced the legislation in May along with Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.

McCaskill is a leader of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over USPS. She has long worked to improve rural postal service and hold USPS accountable. In September, McCaskill called for postal reforms after a USPS Inspector General report found that mismanagement led to up to two billion pieces of delayed mail. She has also called for answers from the Postmaster General following reports from Missouri USPS managers that their staffing needs have been disregarded. She also demanded answers from the Postal Service on how it will protect mail delivery for rural Missourians and efficiently manage the cost-sharing benefits with competitors to carry mail the “last mile,” especially in rural areas. McCaskill is widely credited with having waged a successful campaign over several years to save rural post offices in Missouri and maintain delivery standards.

Read McCaskill’s letter to the Postmaster General HERE.