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 Charles PetersTop Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Mich.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world MORE (D-Minn.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat | White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus | Trump faces another challenge to rewrite of bedrock environmental law NEPA White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Del.) and Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid 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 TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test 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.”