It will take an act of Congress to seal the deal, but supporters of rural mail have won an important concession in the long-running effort to reverse service cuts.
As we noted last month, the U.S. Postal Service has struggled to maintain services many in rural America want and need, including timely delivery of medicine, bills, correspondence and periodicals.
Cost-cutting moves have tended to consolidate mail-processing in large urban hubs, often forcing rural mail to take a circuitous route and predictably slowing its delivery.
Faced with this, we joined a call for measurement of on-time delivery of rural mail, in hopes this could identify specific problem areas and point to solutions. On Friday, our wish — and that of many others in rural America — was granted.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., led the push for implementation of a new rural mail service measurement. The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted this requirement in a bill headed for congressional passage.
The committee directed the Postal Regulatory Commission and the Postal Service to work together to implement a new performance measurement “to specifically include mail delivery from rural towns to other rural towns; from rural towns to urban areas; and from urban areas to rural towns.”
As Sen. Blunt commented: “Many rural Missourians have experienced delayed mail, and it is a problem that needs to be addressed.”
The legislation specifies that an initial performance report on rural mail service should be provided no later than March 1. In another bit of good news, no one seems to think this should be a problem, thanks to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, who has given increased attention to the problem and supported Sen. Blunt’s amendment.
This is a moment of hopefulness for rural mail supporters, although it’s probably too early for optimism. Still, we should celebrate this sign Washington in fact is capable of listening and responding to concerns of people far removed from the corridors of power.