WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building on her efforts to improve mail delivery and service in rural communities, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today co-hosted a roundtable discussion in the Senate on rural postal issues, calling on leaders in the postal community to work with her to protect delivery and service throughout rural America.
Heitkamp – a member of the Senate Committee which oversees the U.S. Postal Service – helped bring together leaders from the Postal Regulatory Commission, National Newspaper Association, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, and National Association of Postmasters of the United States to highlight the dire impacts that recent actions taken by the Postal Service have had in rural communities. Specifically, Heitkamp spoke about how mail processing facility consolidations, mail service standard reductions, and rural post office closures have had substantial effects on families and small businesses in rural areas, hurting their abilities to receive prescriptions, bills, letters, and other important mail in a timely manner. Heitkamp co-hosted today’s roundtable discussion with Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and Committee members Jon Tester (D-MT) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
“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,” said Heitkamp. “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.”
Today’s roundtable builds on Heitkamp’s efforts from earlier this month when she brought together the first bipartisan meeting of solely rural-state Senators to meet with new Postmaster General Megan Brennan to discuss the impact that mail processing facility closures and service standard reductions have had on families and communities throughout rural America. During this bipartisan meeting, Heitkamp pressed the Postal Service to provide a detailed assessment of what is really being saved through processing facility consolidations, and secured a commitment from the Postal Service to work to better meet the needs of rural Americans.
Heitkamp has consistently led efforts to make significant improvements to mail delivery and service throughout North Dakota’s rural communities:
- Gathered stories from North Dakotans about problems with mail delivery – In January 2014, Heitkamp launched her Fix My Mail initiative, a grassroots effort to hear from North Dakotans about issues they have encountered with delayed mail delivery and poor service from the U.S. Postal Service. She has received stories from more than 200 North Dakotans from across the state about these challenges they face every day.
- Pushed for Accountability and Transparency from the Postal Service – Last March, as part of her Fix My Mail Initiative, Heitkamp requested a Postal Service Office of Inspector General review of postal standards and employee issues in North Dakota. The recently-released report found that for the past several years, the Postal Service failed to process and deliver mail in a timely fashion, lacked retail windows to meet demand, did not have a plan to address rapid population growth, overworked employees, and rarely met national service standards in the state.
- Stood up for Rural Postal Customers – After sharing stories she received through her Fix My Mail initiative with the Postal Service, Heitkamp successfully received commitments from the agency to improve mail service and delivery throughout North Dakota, including keeping more hours of operation at nearly 30 rural post offices in the state.
- Brought a Senate Chairman to North Dakota to Hear Postal Challenges Firsthand – Last June, Heitkamp brought Carper, then-Chairman of the Senate Committee overseeing the Postal Service, to Williston to hear about the postal challenges North Dakotans face every day and efforts to improve service and delivery.