Congressman Adrian Smith hopes to save rural post offices even as Congress struggles to help keep the Postal Service afloat.
Faced with mounting debt, the United States Postal Service announced two years ago it might close as many as 3,652 post offices, mostly in rural America. Among those were 90 in Nebraska.
Congressman Adrian Smith has co-sponsored a bill that would cap the closure of rural post offices at five percent annually.
“I’m not out there saying, ‘Don’t touch anything.’ I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. We need to provide an element of flexibility for the Postal Service. We don’t want to micro manage the Postal Service from the halls of Congress,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Yet, Smith does want to stop the Postal Service from moving out of rural America.
“With these massive closures, it’s kind of changing the rules in the middle of the game and especially without any meaningful fiscal reform,” according to Smith.
Smith introduced the bill, named the Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act, along with Congressman Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from North Carolina who co-chairs the Congressional Rural Caucus along with Smith. It would cap closures and consolidations of small post offices at 5% in any given year.
Smith says closing many of the small post offices wouldn’t save the Postal Service very much money, only cheap rent in a small town. But for the small town, the closure would be devastating, says Smith.
The Congressman says some estimates believe closing all those offices targeted would save the Postal Service only 4% of the USPS’ $5 billion shortfall in 2011.
The bill would also require the Postal Service to notify residents two months in advance of any planned closing, to survey affected customers and provide alternative means for mail.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]