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Franken blames GOP-led House for postal service decision

WASHINGTON – One of the most outspoken advocates for rural mail delivery said the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to halt Saturday delivery is a disservice to Minnesotans.

“I’m extremely disappointed that the Postal Service will be discontinuing Saturday delivery,” U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Many Minnesotans rely on the mail to get their essentials like newspapers and paychecks, and for many parts of the state – especially rural communities – the U.S. Postal Service provides the only way to get something delivered.”

Franken blamed the House for failing to pass a bipartisan bill endorsed last year by the Senate.

“That legislation would have put the Postal Service on sounder financial footing and would have allowed rural communities to have greater say in the operation of local post offices,” Franken said. “While I’m saddened by this turn of events, I will continue to fight to ensure Minnesotans have reliable and quality postal service they need.”

Franken has spoken against a proposal for five-day postal delivery and closing mail sorting centers, including the one in Bemidji.

In December 2011, Franken and other senators urged the Postmaster General to hold off on future closings until Congress could pass a postal reform plan. The bipartisan Postal Reform bill passed in the Senate last year included an amendment championed by Franken that would have given the Postal Regulatory Commission the power to overturn scheduled post office and processing center closures when communities or individuals make a compelling case to keep the facility open.

Franken said the bill would also have helped solve fiscal problems facing the USPS by reducing the requirement that the federal agency pre-fund retiree healthcare benefits.

The House of Representatives has not voted the bill.