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Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery

Four Senate Democrats are pressing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over complaints about slow delivery since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy took over in June amid concerns a backlog could affect tallying mail-in ballots in November. 

Sens. Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (D-Mich.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (D-Del.) and Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProtect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package Club for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to DeJoy demanding he explain new changes he implemented this month, saying they’ve heard concerns from their constituents over USPS’s quality of service. They also dinged the postmaster general for not responding to a letter Peters sent him earlier this month. 

“It is essential that the Postal Service not slow down mail or in any way compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail – including significant numbers who will be relying on the Postal Service to exercise their right to vote,” they wrote.

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“However, your failure to provide Congress with relevant information about these recent changes or to clarify to postal employees what changes you have directed as Postmaster General, undermines public trust and only increases concerns that service compromises will grow in advance of the election and peak mail volumes in November," they added.

The senators asked DeJoy to offer a full explanation for each change he’s implemented, provide a list of all processing centers and post offices that have implemented operational changes, and clarify what effect the changes had on service performance. They demanded a response by Aug. 4. 

The letter comes after reports surfaced earlier this month highlighting changes DeJoy made that sparked fears of delivery delays. Among other things, DeJoy told employees to leave mail at distribution centers if delivery of the packages would delay letter carriers from their routes, a measure he defended as a cost-cutting measure. 

The USPS finds itself in a deep financial hole, seeing its coffers deplete in the age of emails and social media.

“In making any changes to Postal Service operations, you should carefully study their service impacts, costs, and other factors in advance, and implement them in a clear and well-documented manner, with the cooperation of unions and key postal stakeholders," the senators wrote. "It is unacceptable to implement broad and non-transparent changes that may slow down service during a pandemic, when the Postal Service’s capacity as an essential agency is already strained,” the senators wrote.

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The move brought on accusations that DeJoy, a North Carolina logistics executive who has donated millions to Republican committees in recent years, is working as a political ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE.

Trump has railed against mail-in ballots, arguing without evidence that they are particularly susceptible to fraud and suggested this week that the Nov. 3 election be delayed. 

A Postal Service spokesman told Reuters the agency “is taking immediate steps to increase operational efficiency by re-emphasizing existing plans that have been designed to provide prompt and reliable service within current service standards.”