Susan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail'

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Democratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Poll: 57 percent of Americans think next president, Senate should fill Ginsburg vacancy MORE (R-Maine) called on the postmaster general Thursday to address "delays in mail delivery" that have been reported following the Trump administration's efforts to change some operational procedures at the U.S. Postal Service.

In a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyPostmaster general says postal service can't return mail-sorting machines Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime Judge orders Postal Service treat election mail as priority MORE, the senator wrote that though she supports returning the Postal Service to a financially stable path, it cannot be done at the expense of Americans.

"I write to request that you promptly address the delays in mail delivery that have occurred following recent operational changes at the United States Postal Service (USPS)," wrote Collins. "I have talked to postal employees and received calls from my constituents in Maine who expressed concern regarding the delays in delivery of critically needed mail, including prescriptions."

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"I share the goal of putting the USPS back on a financially sustainable path," she added. "However, this goal cannot be achieved by shortchanging service to the public."

DeJoy announced earlier this month that he is making sweeping changes to the agency including removing two of the top officials in charge of day-to-day operations. In addition, 23 postal executives were reassigned or displaced and five staffers joined the agency's leadership from other positions.

DeJoy said in a statement on USPS's website that, "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." 

Collins's request comes as the Postal Service is caught in a political fight amid the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats worry that DeJoy, a Trump donor and appointee, is trying to undercut the delivery of mail-in ballots in the November election. 

Nearly 200 House Democrats including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? MORE (D-Calif.) have called on DeJoy to reverse recent changes at the Postal Service, including a decision to downgrade the priority of election mail.

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The Maine senator's letter also comes following comments made by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE, who suggested earlier on Thursday that he is opposed to funding for the USPS in the next round of coronavirus legislation because it would prevent access to universal mail-in voting this fall. 

"They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Trump told Fox Business. "Now in the meantime, they aren't getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting, because they're not equipped to have it."

"Now, if we don't make a deal that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting," the president added. "They just can't have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing."

Later in the day Thursday, Trump told reporters at a press conference that he would be willing to sign legislation that includes funding for the postal service, but rejected the notion that the agency should reverse policies that Democrats believe will hamper mail-in voting. 

Collins, who is up for reelection in November, faces a strong challenge for her seat in the form of state Rep. Sara Gideon (D), who leads Collins by 8 points in a poll released Tuesday.