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Postmaster General testifies that ballots will be prioritized for delivery

Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyJudge orders Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines Watchdog rips operational changes at USPS Voting rights group files suit against Trump, administration officials alleging voter intimidation MORE on Friday said that ensuring mail-in ballots are delivered during elections this year is his " No. 1 priority.”

The statement from the postmaster general comes as DeJoy has faced criticism of recent decisions made around reforming the Postal Service.

“As we head in the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time,” DeJoy testified during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the Postal Service.

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“This sacred duty is my No. 1 priority between now and Election Day.”

In longer prepared remarks, DeJoy described recent concerns that new reforms to the Postal Service could delay or impede the delivery of ballots as a “false narrative” but vowed to not implement two major reforms until after Election Day in order to uphold the Postal Service’s “valued reputation as a source of reliability and strength for the American people.”

“While the Governors and I believe significant reforms are essential ... even longstanding efficiency efforts have become a distraction from our mission of service to the public as the nation prepares to hold a presidential election in the midst of a devastating pandemic,” DeJoy wrote in his prepared statement.

DeJoy, who has served as postmaster general since June and is a Trump campaign donor, said the sweeping changes he made recently were necessary to keep the agency afloat, noting that the Postal Service will face a net loss of around $11 billion for fiscal 2020. 

With more financial concerns facing the Postal Service due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeJoy used his testimony to beg Congress to appropriate more funds for the agency, an issue that has been a sticking point between Democrats and Republicans during coronavirus relief bill negotiations. 

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“I urge Congress to enact legislation that would provide the Postal Service with financial relief to account for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our financial condition,” DeJoy testified.

Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Two Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Wis.) described concerns about DeJoy as “character assassination,” telling the official that he should be “commended” for his initiatives to reform the agency. 

Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Jaime Harrison raises million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid BlackPAC rolls out Senate race endorsements for the first time MORE (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the committee, by contrast, highlighted his concerns over delays to mail of all types, noting that he had received more than 7,500 complaints from constituents on the issue over the past two weeks. 

“Your decisions have cost Americans their health, their livelihood, and their peace of mind,” Peters said. “I believe you owe them an apology for the harm you have caused, and you owe all of us some very clear answers today.”

DeJoy is set to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee early next week on similar concerns around the Postal Service and election mail.