The United States Postal Service is one of the oldest institutions in the nation. It is also one of the few government services specifically called for in the US Constitution. Since its reorganization in the 1970’s into a quasi-private enterprise the USPS has gone through some severe monetary woes, including nearly going bankrupt after the 2008 recession. The United States Congress has attempted to pass legislation to downsize the USPS as well as end deliveries on Saturday.
Thanks to an amendment passed by Senator Al Franken (DFL), post offices that previously been mandated to close by the Postmaster General will now be allowed to stay open if their respective communities demand it (press release). The legislation, also sponsored by fellow Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL) allows the Postal Regulatory Commission to reject closure of a postal facility if the citizens around it provide a good reason why it should not be closed, according to the Duluth News Tribune. This legislation could also save major processing centers in cities like Bemidji, according to the Pioneer.
Another financial problem with the Post Office is its retirement benefit system. Prior to this amendment the USPS was forced to fully fund the health care system for its employees. The legislation would save billions of these funds, according to the News Tribune.
The United States Post Office is an American institution that has found itself in dire straits. Thankfully, with the help of the Minnesota Senatorial delegation, many local post offices will not face the axe for another month. Still, the fact that this country can afford billions of dollars to fund the national security state but cannot find the money to keep important community areas such as post offices open points to a much deeper problem. Hopefully this amendment will be a first step in correcting this issue.