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October 20, 2014
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Our Congressman replies

Chris Gibson

Dear Staff and Publisher of The River Reporter,

In response to your open letter dated September 25, 2013, I wanted to reach out and assure you and your readers that I oppose the consolidation of the Newburgh Mail Processing Facility by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and I continue to work in a bipartisan manner with my colleague Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney to convince the USPS to reverse this decision. Bringing to my attention the direct impact to your newspaper is important to my continued conveyance of the issues faced by my constituents to the USPS because of this facility’s closure.

Earlier this year, I joined with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents Newburgh, in sending a letter to the Postmaster General requesting a review and reversal of this planned closure. In the meantime, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to pursue meaningful postal reform in order to prevent future closings and review the financial and economic effects of, and any degradation of service standards caused by, past facility closures.

In regards to the USPS in general, this organization faces a severe budget shortfall. After benefiting from modest profits between FY2004 – FY2007, technology, antiquated practices and the poor economy has lead the USPS to have billions of dollars in deficits since FY2007. In fact, after it once again defaults on its $5.6 billion employee retiree health care pre-funding requirement on September 30, 2013, the USPS’s total default to the federal government will be brought to $16.7 billion.

Beyond postal operations, internal funding mechanisms have created inefficiencies in the Postal Service’s fiscal governance. This includes the overpayment into its employee health benefits system by approximately $6 billion. In addition, decreasing revenues and increasing operating costs during these difficult economic times have further exacerbated the problems and led to the current budget deficits and projected bankruptcy of the entire United States Postal Service in the coming years.

Rest assured, I fully understand the vital services and cultural value that local and rural post offices provide to communities throughout Upstate New York. As one of the few federal agencies explicitly authorized in the United States Constitution, the Postal Service still remains a critical component of our infrastructure, and post office closures limit accessibility to a crucial government service. For that reason, I have signed on as a cosponsor of H.Res. 30, a resolution by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) expressing the sense of Congress that the USPS take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.

In an effort to reform the operations of the USPS in general, several bills have been introduced during this Congress. have signed on as a cosponsor of the bipartisan bill, H.R. 630, the Postal Service Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). H.R. 630 protects rural post offices from disproportionate closures, maintains the six-day delivery policy, increases revenues through the expansion of services and calls for effective financial reform to combat the increasing fiscal crisis, including eliminating the requirement for pre-funding of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. I look forward to advocating for the positions within H.R. 630 should postal reform legislation come to the House floor for a vote.

Finally, I look forward to working with my colleagues to find reforms or other measures to increase or protect service standards so that small businesses, like yours, can continue to meet deadlines and maintain a profit margin.

Thank you, again, for bringing your situation to my attention.

[Chris Gibson represents New York State’s 19th District in the U.S. Congress.]