Half of the Senate on Thursday called for a one-year hold on the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to close mail-processing plants, saying the move should come as part of any legislation to avoid another government shutdown.

Fifty senators signed a bipartisan letter to top members of the House and Senate appropriations committees opposing USPS plans for closing up to 82 plants and eliminating up to 15,000 jobs starting next year.

(Matt Rourke/AP)

The Postal Service this week reported a $2 billion loss for the third quarter, despite increasing its revenue by 2 percent compared to the same period in 2013. The agency has lost tens of billions of dollars since 2006, but its finances have improved dramatically in the past several quarters.

RELATED: Postal Service reports $2 billion loss for third quarter

The Senate letter urged the appropriations committees to include a one-year ban on mail-delivery cuts as part of spending legislation Congress will have to pass to continue funding the government after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

“At a time when our middle class is disappearing, the loss of 15,000 good-paying Postal Service jobs will harm our local communities and economies,” the lawmakers wrote. “Slowing down mail deliver even further will hurt senior citizens on fixed incomes, small businesses and the entire economy.”

The Postal Service said in a statement Friday that agency is disappointed by the effort to stop it from removing “excess capacity from our mail processing network.”

“It would be unfortunate if this action were to impede our current progress,” the statement said. “A comprehensive legislative package is the most appropriate
way to address our systemic business model and financial issues.”

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jon Tester (D-Md.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) drafted the letter, but it was signed by seven Republicans, including Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).