In a victory for communities across rural Missouri, the U.S. Senate Tuesday gave broad bipartisan approval to a plan by Sen. Claire McCaskill that will protect rural towns from losing their post offices.
“This is a win for rural communities in Missouri and across the country,” said McCaskill, who was born in Rolla and grew up in Houston and Lebanon. “Protecting our rural post offices is about more than just maintaining brick and mortar — our post offices are the lifeblood for towns across our state and a source of good-paying jobs in areas hard-hit by the economic downturn. This amendment protects rural post offices, with a realistic eye toward the future. It’s fair to rural communities in a way that’s predictable, and that brings some real accountability to the Postal Service.”
Texas County post offices at Bucyrus, Success, Huggins, Elk Creek and Hartshorn are included on a list of communities slated to lose service.
The Senate is debating legislation to address the fiscal challenges of the U.S. Postal Service. McCaskill, who helped win the current short term moratorium on post office closures late last year, won approval of a bipartisan compromise amendment which would bar the USPS from closing rural post offices during the next 12 months. Thereafter, the USPS could only close a rural post office if strict criteria are met — including that seniors who rely on the post office to receive life-saving prescription drugs would have the same or substantially similar service.
McCaskill rallied support for her amendment on the Senate floor, urging her colleagues to give the significant cost-cutting measures in the larger legislation time to produce results before shutting down rural post offices—closures which could devastate small towns, but which would only produce about 1 percent of necessary savings, she said.
Under McCaskill’s plan, the USPS would be prohibited from closing rural post offices at any time in the next 12 months — unless there is not significant opposition from the affected community — while other postal reforms are put in place to shore up the USPS finances without harming rural communities. Under McCaskill’s amendment, after the one-year moratorium expires, rural post offices will still be shielded from closures, unless the USPS can meet all of the following strict criteria:
·Seniors and persons with disabilities would receive the same or substantially similar service, including access to prescription medication sent through the mail.
·Jobs and businesses in the community would not suffer economic loss, and the economic loss to the community resulting from the closure would not exceed the savings obtained by the Postal Service.
·The area served by the post office has access to wired broadband Internet service.
·And the next nearest post office is no more than 10 miles driving distance, using roads with year-round access.
In Kansas City earlier this year, McCaskill announced that she would fight for the state’s rural post offices at risk of being shuttered as the U.S. Postal Service seeks to cut expenses.
McCaskill, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Postal Service, is also working with her colleagues to better protect mail processing facilities from closure, and to preserve six-day mail delivery.