The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says House legislation that would provide $25 billion in funding and freeze changes at the agency would harm efforts to make operations more efficient, cut costs, and improve service.
“We are concerned that some of the requirements of the Bill, while well-meaning, will constrain the ability of the Postal Service to make operational changes that will improve efficiency, reduce costs, and ultimately improve service to the American people,” USPS said in an Aug. 23 statement.
The proposal, called Delivering for America Act, was approved by the Democratic-led House on Aug. 22, with backing from some two dozen Republicans. It calls for a range of actions that include a freeze on decommissioning of sorting machines, prohibiting reduction of post office hours and overtime, and banning any other changes at the agency that might delay mail delivery.
The halt on changes would be in effect until the end of the CCP virus pandemic or until Jan. 31, 2021, whichever comes first.
The bill, which is unlikely to be taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate and which the White House has threatened to veto, was designed partly in response to changes at the USPS led by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that Democrats assert could slow mail delivery ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.
Some Republicans have sided with calls for additional funding for the agency, although they haven’t joined Democrats in their criticism of DeJoy’s reform efforts; Democrats have claimed the moves are part of a plan to undermine widescale mail-in balloting. The measure was denounced by some Republicans as part of a politically motivated “manufactured crisis.”
“Today’s effort is yet another smokescreen, another conspiracy theory foisted upon the American people to distract us from the real problems facing the American people,” said Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), who serves on the committee that oversees the USPS, in remarks Aug. 22 during debate over the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a tweet ahead of the vote that the bill is necessary to “reject the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the critical mission of the Postal Service.” Then, speaking on the floor, she called for a bipartisan vote to “reverse the Trump damage and provide $25 billion to the United States Postal Service.”
The bill passed with all Democrats and 26 Republicans voting in favor.
Testifying before a Senate committee last week, DeJoy called concerns about delayed mail deliveries a “false narrative” and made assurances that the prompt delivery of election mail was his top priority. Before the House vote, DeJoy, who was appointed to the job by the USPS Board of Governors, announced that he would suspend the cost-cutting measures until after the election.
The USPS, in its Aug 23 statement, reinforced DeJoy’s assurances that election mail delivery wouldn’t be compromised.
“We reiterate that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time, and will do everything necessary to meet this sacred duty,” the USPS said in the statement.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Congress on more meaningful reform that will ensure our long-term health, and we remain a vital part of our nation’s critical infrastructure,” the agency stated.