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Rural Postal Service matters: Tester taking common sense steps to protect needs of seniors, small-business owners in Montana

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Montana’s letter carriers work day in and day out to deliver the mail and keep rural communities connected. The U.S. Senate recently passed a groundbreaking bill to reform the Postal Service while protecting mail delivery and jobs in rural America. Now it’s time for the U.S. House of Representatives to follow Sen. Jon Tester’s lead.

Thanks to Tester, the Senate’s bill gives the Postal Service the breathing room it needs to meet its financial obligations while preserving efficient mail delivery and protecting rural post offices.

Timely and efficient postal service matters to folks across rural Montana. It helps our seniors receive every day necessities like medicines. It allows small businesses to conduct business. It even makes sure our election ballots get counted on time.

As a small-business owner in White Sulfur Springs, I rely on the Postal Service to mail my goods around the world.

That’s why Tester fought to improve the postal reform bill so that it works for rural America. Tester changed the bill to protect rural post offices from arbitrary closure. Now, the Postal Service will have to meet strict criteria if it wants to close a rural post office. If it doesn’t meet the criteria, the Postal Regulatory Commission can step in and save the post office.

Tester also made sure that any financial cuts start at the top. His unanimously passed amendment cuts the salaries of the Postmaster General and other Postal Service executives by one-third. With a recent Postmaster General making nearly $800,000 in total compensation – more than four times the Defense Secretary – it’s no wonder the Senate supported Tester’s measure.

The Postal Service is public service and Tester took common sense steps to remind the Postal Service not to balance its books on the backs of Montanans and rural Americans.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is stalling yet again. The Postal Service recently announced its plan to reduce post office hours and consolidate some mail processing facilities around the country. If the House doesn’t do its job and pass postal reform, the Postal Service will be forced to make even more drastic cuts. In Montana, Tester’s worked hard to prevent closures to our mail processing facilities in Missoula, Helena, Wolf Point and Butte, but there’s only so much he can do alone.

Without action from the House, Montanans will be left without access to reliable mail service. Is the House willing to let that happen by failing to pass postal reform in a responsible, bipartisan way?

Tester worked hard to make the necessary changes to preserve Montana’s way of life. He listened to Montanans and fixed the bill to protect rural post offices before supporting the postal reform bill.

Working day in and day out, Jon Tester got it done – and got it done on time. Those are the kinds of delivery standards Montana postal workers can understand and respect.

The only question is whether the House will make the same decision.

Sarah Calhoun started Red Ants Pants, a small business in White Sulphur Springs that specializes in work pants for women.

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