Members of Congress have told the U.S. Postal Service they oppose plans to consolidate mail processing centers, warning that the proposals could lead to deteriorating mail delivery.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday wrote to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, criticizing the Postal Service’s recent announcement of consolidations and its intent to review other ways to change operations.

“Customers rely on the Postal Service for a variety of important services, including their medication, newspapers and financial documents,” they wrote. “Sending mail farther for sorting is unlikely to improve service.”

The lawmakers said an inspector general review of a new processing center in Richmond, Virginia, “noted that challenges associated with changes to the facility contributed to a decrease in service performance in the region” for four months after its opening.

The Postal Service announced last week it plans to convert the Hampden facility into a local processing center and relocate mail processing to the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough, 130 miles away.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the Hampden facility is important for mail delivery across large parts of Maine. Mail sent from Fort Kent to Wallagrass, 10 miles away, is processed in Hampden, 192 miles away, she said. It returns to Wallagrass, 182 miles away. Under the new proposal, mail would be transported to Scarborough, 322 miles from Fort Kent and sent at least another 312 miles back to Wallagrass, she said.


Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, has introduced legislation to halt the consolidation of mail processing centers, citing the importance of deliveries in rural areas that comprise much of his district.

In an emailed statement, the Postal Service said it is difficult to understand the need for legislation because the Eastern Maine Processing center “will simply be redesignated as a Local Processing Center,” making its operations more relevant to the “modern network we are building.”

The facility is not closing and is not being downgraded or downsized; a local postmark will still be available; collection times and retail offices will not be changed; up to $12 million will be earmarked for modernizing and deferred maintenance, including state-of-the-art sorting equipment; and service standards for Maine residents will be upgraded, the Postal Service said.

It said it plans “no career layoffs.”

Two Midwest members of Congress also have introduced bills to halt consolidations of mail processing centers. Republican Rep. Jack Bergman, of Michigan, and Democratic Rep. Nikki Budzinski, of Illinois, recently raised the Protect Postal Performance Act that would halt consolidation plans in underperforming postal districts.

The Postal Service said it’s analyzing proposed legislation, but “does not generally comment on legislation.”


Collins and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., led 22 members of Congress, including Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Golden in reaching out to DeJoy. A spokesperson for Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, D-1st District, said her office has asked the Postal Service how it plans to handle the increased operations in the “target processing center” in Scarborough but hasn’t heard back.

The Postal Service last year announced a Mail Processing Facility Review, part of a $40 billion investment strategy to upgrade and improve processing, transportation, delivery networks and how employees work. Nearly 60 cities and regions were identified, including eastern Maine.

In their letter to DeJoy, the lawmakers said the USPS proposals would “dismantle parts of the Postal Service’s robust network” that helps distribute mail and places outgoing sorting in more distant facilities. The result would be inefficient handling and delivery of mail, particularly local postage, they said.

Members of Congress said the consolidation proposals do not have “any discernible support from local communities” and that they have heard opposition from postal customers, community leaders, local businesses and postal employees.

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