House

175 members of Congress call on postmaster general to reverse changes, restructuring ahead of election

Dozens of House Democrats on Wednesday signed on to a letter calling for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to reverse his overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), citing the coronavirus pandemic and upcoming elections. 

The letter, signed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 174 other members of Congress, raised concerns about the “significant operational restructuring, done without any apparent analysis and consultation” and what effect it could have on the agency during a year when the presidential election will rely heavily on mail-in voting.

“It is always essential that the Postal Service be able to deliver mail in a timely and effective manner,” the letter states. “During the once-in-a-century health and economic crisis of COVID-19, the Postal Service’s smooth functioning is a matter of life-or-death, and is critical for protecting lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy.”

Lawmakers warned that the proposed changes — under which all election mail would not be treated as First Class — could provide delays to absentee ballots and applications that would “disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.”

DeJoy, who contributed to President Trump’s campaign, this month announced that he would implement sweeping changes to the USPS that included removing the top two officials in charge of day-to-day operations.

According to a new organizational chart released by USPS, 23 postal executives were reassigned or displaced and five staffers joined the agency’s leadership from other positions.

“This organizational change will capture operating efficiencies by providing clarity and economies of scale that will allow us to reduce our cost base and capture new revenue,” said DeJoy. “It is crucial that we do what is within our control to help us successfully complete our mission to serve the American people and, through the universal service obligation, bind our nation together by maintaining and operating our unique, vital and resilient infrastructure.”

DeJoy announced there would be a hiring freeze and a request for voluntary early retirements. The USPS will also configure itself into three “operating units” of retail and delivery, logistics and processing, and commerce and business solutions and will cut back from seven regions to four.

USPS has faced mounting financial challenges, which have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. The agency reported 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.”

Some Democrats have accused DeJoy’s cost-cutting moves of creating more difficulties for the agency.

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

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

Maloney 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. 

Tags 2020 election absentee voting Carolyn Maloney coronavirus mail-in voting Donald Trump Louis DeJoy Mail Nancy Pelosi U.S. Postal Service USPS
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