Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Committee Members Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) hosted a roundtable to examine, analyze, and discuss the various challenges facing the Postal Service in rural communities across the country.
Members heard from representatives from the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, National Association of Postmasters of the United States, Postal Regulatory Commission, and the National Newspaper Association.
Sen. Carper: “Our Constitution requires that the Postal Service deliver mail to the last mile. This means that no matter how rural or remote the address, Americans will get their mail. However, as the Postal Service has made changes to service to address its financial condition, service to rural communities in particular has suffered. While delivery to our most rural communities certainly presents unique challenges, it also presents an important competitive advantage and opportunity that can help the Postal Service thrive. I hope today’s discussion provided members a chance to better understand rural postal issues and help begin the process of addressing these challenges in the context of comprehensive postal reform this Congress. We must help the Postal Service move in a more thoughtful direction, better leverage its 200-year old distribution network, and understand new ways we can help it maintain service without putting rural communities at a disadvantage.”
Sen. McCaskill: “Rural post offices are part of the identity of rural America. The obligation for the Postal Service to provide universal service to the American people doesn’t just apply to Americans in big cities and urban centers—it applies everywhere.”
Sen. Tester: “By reducing services, making product deliveries less timely, and increasing the burdens on customers, it’s difficult to see a good path forward for the Postal Service. But Congress can ensure that the Postal Service becomes financially solvent by making a few basic policy changes so the USPS can remain an important part of rural communities into the future.”
Sen. Heitkamp: “In North Dakota and other rural areas across the country, farmers and hardworking families may live 20, 30, or even 40 miles from the nearest town. But where they live shouldn’t prohibit them from getting their mail in a timely manner. Getting our mail in a timely manner enables small businesses to ship their products, helps families and seniors get needed prescriptions, and allows individuals to access services beyond their communities. And these needs are amplified in rural communities that are disproportionately impacted by poor mail delivery. To make sure rural America doesn’t get left behind, we need to pass comprehensive legislation that makes needed reforms to the Postal Service and truly works for rural communities in North Dakota and across the country.”