House

House Oversight chair introduces bill to freeze Postal Service changes amid coronavirus pandemic

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would block the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from implementing a series of changes amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Delivering for America Act would prevent USPS from instituting shifts to its operations or to the level of service that was in place at the beginning of 2020.

The bill comes as Maloney and other Democrats increasingly speak out against the decisions made at USPS during a year in which the presidential election will rely more heavily on mail-in voting. 

"Our Postal Service should not become an instrument of partisan politics, but instead must be protected as a neutral, independent entity that focuses on one thing and one thing only - delivering the mail," Maloney said in a statement. "At this juncture in our nation's history, when the number of Americans voting by mail for this presidential election is expected to more than double from the last, Congress must protect the right of all eligible citizens to have their vote counted."

"A once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency," she added. "The [bill] would reverse these changes so this fundamental American service can continue unimpeded."

In a news release announcing the legislation, Maloney's office cited multiple memos released by USPS earlier this year that included details about new policies and the organization's restructuring.

Maloney also cited the millions in campaign contributions to President Trump from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who assumed the post in June. 

The actions of the Postal Service have gained attention in recent weeks amid concerns about how prepared the agency is for a surge in mail-in voting. Some Democrats say that DeJoy's cost-cutting moves, including reducing overtime and adjusting delivery policies, could only make things more difficult for the agency. 

Maloney in early August announced that she had invited DeJoy to appear before the Oversight panel on Sept. 17 for a hearing examining "operation changes" to USPS. She was also among a group of Democratic senators and House members who sent a letter to the USPS inspector general last week requesting an investigation into recent staffing and policy changes under the Trump administration appointee. 

The letter was sent just days after DeJoy announced that the service was removing two top officials in charge of day-to-day operations. A organizational chart also showed that 23 postal executives were reassigned and the five staffers left their positions for new roles in leadership. 

USPS has faced mounting financial challenges, which have been compounded by the pandemic. The agency reported last Friday that it lost more than $2 billion between April and June, with DeJoy attributing the losses to "substantial declines in mail volume" and a "broken business model."

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