Maryland Lawmakers Hope To Reshape Post Office Bill | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Maryland Lawmakers Hope To Reshape Post Office Bill

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Maryland lawmakers are fighting to keep the Easton USPS delivery center.
Brian Hefele:
Maryland lawmakers are fighting to keep the Easton USPS delivery center.

The region's senators are still hoping to change a bill that's being finalized this week to reform the U.S. Postal Service.

Congress has until mid-May to tackle postal reforms or else the Postmaster General has promised to start shuttering hundreds of facilities nationwide. To get out of the red, postal administrators want to end Saturday delivery, buy out senior employees and close facilities in rural areas.The Senate started voting Tuesday on 39 amendments to a bill that proposes its own swath of cuts. 

Maryland's lawmakers have been fighting to save the Easton delivery center on the Eastern Shore, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) says he's still monitoring changes to the bill as it's amended on the floor.

"They've reached a true compromise where, in most of the country, we maintain the one- to three-day service, and I think for the state of Maryland that may take care of some of our concerns," says Cardin. "And we're in the process of analyzing that and working with the committee to see if our concerns have been met."

Cardin is offering an amendment to, at a minimum, keep open postal facilities within 50 miles of each other, which could protect facilities in rural communities across the U.S.

The Senate legislation keeps Saturday delivery intact for at least two years while also protecting many rural facilities, which Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner says is important. 

"The nature of first class mail has changed so dramatically. It's not really a case of blame, it's just: the world has changed," Warner says. "And they have to be able to right-size this operation in a way that's conscious of rural communities and trying to mitigate the job losses, but at the end of the day you cannot have an institution that loses $20 billion a year."

The Senate is expected to finish its work on the postal reform bill today. Then their bill will have to be melded with a version from House Republicans that gives postal administrators more freedom to overhaul the agency, including a provision to let them fire union workers.

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