Peters calls US Senate hearing on postal changes proposed in U.P.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has called the U.S. postmaster general and other postal officials to a hearing Tuesday on what his office termed “mounting concerns about the postal service and timely mail delivery.”

The hearing, titled “Oversight of the United States Postal Service,” will examine the USPS’s current service, operations and finances, including oversight of changes to its network and their potential effects on mail delivery, Peters, D-Michigan, stated in a news release.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Eastern time in the Senate Dirksen Building, SD-342, at the Capitol in Washington. It can be livestreamed Tuesday by going to https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/oversight-of-the-united-states-postal-service/, according to the news release.

Confirmed as witnesses are: Louis DeJoy, USPS postmaster general; Roman Martinez IV, chair, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors; Michael Kubayanda, chair, Postal Regulatory Commission; and Tammy Hull, inspector general, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

“The Postal Service provides vital services to people in Michigan and across the country and is the only carrier that will deliver to every address in every community,” Peters said in the release. “The Postal Service has not been fully transparent about planned changes to its processing and delivery networks, including changes proposed in Michigan. That’s why I am convening a hearing with the Postmaster General and other key officials to get answers on how these changes could impact mail service for Michiganders and to examine the Postal Service’s current record when it comes to serving the American people.”

The committee hearing comes as the USPS continues its facility review of the Kingsford plant, with an eye on converting it from a mail processing and distribution center — the only one in the Upper Peninsula — to a local processing center. That move would mean almost all mail from the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin would be sent to Green Bay, Wis., for processing, even if bound for another location within the region.

At an April 1 public input meeting in Iron Mountain on its review, USPS officials claimed the agency will invest $3 million to $5 million in the Kingsford facility as part of the conversion, including $1.25 million for a new “state-of-the-art” sorting machine and $2.5 million for modernization efforts and deferred maintenance. In the end, the investment could reach $6 million to $8 million.

The plans are part of a $40 billion nationwide investment strategy — the Delivering for America plan — to “upgrade and enhance” USPS’s postal processing, distribution and transportation network, the USPS stated in launching the Kingsford facility review in January. It would save USPS an estimated $1.1 million to $1.5 million annually at the Kingsford center, USPS officials said at the April 1 meeting.

It is among numerous USPS locations throughout the United States being considered for such changes.

USPS already had altered its service in the region by cutting mail truck pickup runs, which has eliminated the ability to have USPS next-day mail service in most of the Upper Peninsula. That has affected timely delivery of medicines, business and industry parts and legally required water samples, local postal workers and other critics of the switch have said.

Peters is not the only federal lawmaker questioning the USPS’s actions.

In an April 5 letter to Postmaster DeJoy, U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman accused the USPS of using “overly bureaucratic double-speak” at the April 1 meeting rather than providing clear plans.

“At the meeting, the expertise and passion of those postal workers, business owners, and community members in attendance were evident,” said Bergman, who represents the 1st Congressional District that includes all of the Upper Peninsula. “Yet rather than listen to their well-founded concerns and engage in genuine dialogue, the agency’s presenters chose to stonewall and obfuscate, opting to provide distorted and incomplete answers to attendees’ questions.”

Bergman also criticized USPS officials at the public meeting for being ignorant “of the most basic facets of the Iron Mountain and Kingsford area” and its postal needs, such as having the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain that provides needed prescription medications for the high percentage of veterans living in the mostly rural district.

Also coming Tuesday is the deadline for submitting written comments on the USPS plan at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mpfr-iron-mountain-mi.


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