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Senate Passes Postal Financial Reform Bill

The U.S. Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would give the U.S. Postal Service $11 billion to offer buyouts and early retirements, the Washington Post reports.

The bill passed 62-to-37 and would also allow the Postal Service to end its Saturday delivery services in two years.

The Senate said this measure should only be taken if USPS determines it is necessary to counter financial restraints.

USPS would also be able to move forward with its plans to consolidate or close its facilities.

However, senators placed several restrictions on these processes in rural areas.

Senators disabled the USPS from closing rural offices if the next-nearest location was more than 10 miles away, the report notes.

Lawmakers agreed to strengthen the appeals process for customers to issue objection to postal facility closures, requiring USPS to wait until after Election Day to close postal facilities if the associated state permits voting by mail.

Senators also will allow USPS to co-locate post offices in government-owned buildings.

The Postal Service will also be permitted to slow its delivery services to destinations further away, but maintain overnight delivery services when the mail is destined for nearby communities.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who sponsors a similar bill making its way through the House, said the Senate bill inhibits the Postal Service’s ability to save money by closing facilities.

Issa said keeping the facilities affected by the bill open would cost $900 million a year.

The House’s proposed legislation, not scheduled for vote yet, would establish a financial control board and a commission dedicated to determining facility closures.

The bill would also require USPS employees to pay the same health insurance premiums as federal workers, end Saturday mail delivery and streamline postage rates, the Post reports.

The Postal Service estimated it delivered 168 billion pieces of mail last year, down from the 202.8 billion delivered a decade ago.

USPS hopes to cut $22 billion in cost by 2015 and is set to begin closing or consolidating facilities in May if Congress does not find an alternate plan.

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