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Thu April 26, 2012
Northwestern Lawmakers Tweak Postal Reform Bill
Rural post offices in the Northwest would remain open through the November elections under a bill approved by the U.S. Senate Wednesday. The measure includes an amendment aimed at preserving Washington and Oregon’s vote-by-mail systems.
To get out of the red, postal administrators want to overhaul the agency. Their plan calls for closing dozens of facilities in the Northwest. That could slow delivery speeds.
Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden fears such a drastic change ahead of this year’s presidential election would cripple Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. He sponsored an amendment to postpone all facility closures until after ballots are cast. And Wyden says his provision doesn’t let administrators off the hook after this year’s elections either.
“The Postal Service on an ongoing basis will have to factor in any changes and what that will mean for vote-by-mail kinds of states," Wyden says.
Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley also helped pass an amendment barring the agency from closing rural Post Offices for a year, but critics say that ties the cash-strapped agency’s hands. And House Republicans want to give the Postal Service more leeway in closing facilities, which means Merkley’s amendment still faces obstacles.
Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo opposed the post office bill. He says it would increase the deficit which would violate spending caps approved by Congress last year.
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