The Postal Service’s plans to close thousands of post offices in an effort to cut costs is hitting close to home on Capitol Hill.
House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Strodel has informed Members and staffers that the USPS is targeting for closure the post offices located inside the Capitol and in the Cannon and Rayburn office buildings. Under the proposal, Capitol Hill mail service would be consolidated in the Longworth and Ford post offices.
“According to the USPS, this proposal is based on an analysis of office revenues and is designed to improve productivity, increase efficiency and cut costs,” Strodel wrote in his letter to Members, staff and others who work on Capitol Hill.
The Postal Service has the authority to make a final decision, but is currently soliciting public comment, as required by federal statute.
Lawmakers offered a mixed verdict on the possibility of closures.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the postal service, said he supported the closures on Capitol Hill.
“We’ve got too much infrastructure investment in terms of too many offices ... and we have to consolidate,” said Ross, a co-sponsor of postal service overhaul legislation. “I don’t like to see it happen, but that’s a reality of where we are.”
Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy, agreed.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” the Missouri Democrat said.
But Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said he would be against the closures.
“I think we’re rushing to do stuff rather than to sit down and come up with a total kind of plan that we can look at from an economic standpoint,” said Towns, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Gibson Keeps Promise, Pays Down U.S. Debt
Staying true to a campaign promise, freshman Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) has returned a record lump sum of cash to pay down the public debt.
Signing onto a tradition observed by a small handful of Members, Gibson has agreed to take money out of his Congressional salary each quarter and put it toward deficit reduction.
Though some Members report quarterly contributions in the low thousands, Gibson paid $19,955 in the second quarter of 2011. In the third quarter, according to numbers released recently, he gave $12,301.
Those are the single largest payments toward deficit reduction any Member has made in a decade.
After being elected in 2010, Gibson promised that as long as he served in Congress, he would contribute the entirety of his military pension to debt reduction. He served 24 years in the Army.
“At a time when Congress asked everyone to cut back across the board, he really wanted to lead by example,” said Spokeswoman Stephanie Valle.