Montana Politics

Rehberg Fails to Deliver For Montana’s Rural Post Offices

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While thousands of Montanans are facing the prospect of losing their local post offices, Representative Dennis Rehberg simply isn’t interested in doing his job and helping them, as Mike Dennison notes in today’s Missoulian:

Denny Rehberg - Caricature

Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, is not committing yet to any specific bill or legislative solution, saying he wants to work with USPS "to find a workable solution that we can live all live with," to avoid unnecessary closures.

To be fair, Rehberg has been quite consumed by politicizing a statue of Jesus on federal land, but to do nothing but talk when rural Montana risk losing local mail service and all Montanans face slower, less efficient delivery, hurting small businesses and costing jobs, is beyond the Rehbergian norm for inaction.

It’s instructive to contrast Rehberg’s inaction with his rhetoric. Just two months ago, he told Montanans that preserving postal service was critical:

…rural states like Montana should not be asked to shoulder more than our fair share of sacrifice.  I am extremely concerned that the proposed closure of over 90 offices in the state unfairly impacts rural residents.  The distance between our towns and cities, the unpredictable nature of our weather, and the needs of our businesses and senior citizens to receive both packages and medication in a timely manner all factor into why a town’s local post office serves as a vital link to the rest of the state and the country.

I’d say something “vital” to the economic and physical health of our neighbors is worth more than vague promises issued in pro forma press releases. It’s time for Representative Rehberg to do something. Anything.

It’s only worse when one remembers that Representative Rehberg helped create this problem when he and the Republican-controlled Congress created the USPS’s fiscal crisis in 2006.

So what about Senators Baucus and Tester? Working for Montanans:

On Friday, Baucus and Tester and 16 other Democrats sent a letter to Senate leadership asking Congress to include language in an appropriation bill to postpone any USPS closures for at least six months. The moratorium would give Congress a chance to pass reform to help the Postal Service solve its financial woes.

Baucus also has introduced a bill that would return the $7 billion retirement surplus to the USPS, as well as forbid closure of any post office that is more than 10 miles away from another post office.

Words are cheap, Representative Rehberg. How about rolling up your sleeves and putting in some work to protect Montana’s rural communities and businesses?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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