Pennsylvania lawmakers call on postmaster general to return sorting machines

Pennsylvania lawmakers call on postmaster general to return sorting machines
© Greg Nash

Pennsylvania lawmakers called on the postmaster general to immediately return recently removed Postal Service sorting machines, saying in a Tuesday letter that their removals have caused a delay in mail delivery.

Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators urging federal investigation into Liberty University's handling of sexual assault claims Crucial talks on Biden agenda enter homestretch Senate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents MORE (D-Pa.), along with all nine of the state's Democratic House members and one of the state's Republican House members, sent the letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice Biden nominates two picks to replace members of US Postal Service board Postal Service loss nearly halved MORE saying at least 30 sorting machines have been removed from Pennsylvania facilities. 

The lawmakers said the letter was a direct response to DeJoy’s testimony in front of the House last week, during which the postmaster general said he would not return decommissioned sorting machines and collection boxes because they are not needed. 

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“Over the past several weeks we have heard from people in every county across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who are gravely concerned about delayed mail delivery,” they wrote. “We call on you to immediately return to service machines that have been removed in recent months.”

A Postal Service spokesperson told The Hill that the U.S. Postal Service will respond directly to the letter but referred to a release that stated the delays in mail delivery are beginning to get better. A different release indicated that sorting machines are used a third of the time, so “there is ample machine capacity to handle spikes in mail volume.”

A spokesperson for the Postal Service told The Associated Press that the decommissioning of the machines was ordered before DeJoy, who is a major donor to President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE, took over in June. 

But union officials in Pennsylvania told the AP that the lack of machines is still causing delays in mail delivery.  

The request for the postmaster general to restore the machines comes as millions of Pennsylvanians are expected to vote by mail in the 2020 election due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The president has vocally opposed mail-in voting, saying without evidence that it will open up the presidential election to fraud. He also has said he is withholding emergency aid from the Postal Service to make handling the ballots harder. 

The Postal Service has also cautioned that Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot deadlines “appear to be incompatible” with its delivery times. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom WolfTom WolfPennsylvania K-12 mask mandate rejected by state court Overnight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — White House unshaken by mandate ruling Pennsylvania governor allowing school districts to modify, end mask mandate MORE (D) has called on the state Supreme Court to mandate counties to count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and arrive up to three days after the election, but Republicans oppose that measure.