U.S. Postmaster Defends Mail Cutbacks As Driven by Financial Desperation
WASHINGTON — The U.S. postmaster tried to convince a sometimes skeptical Senate committee Friday that recent interruptions in mail service represented only an effort to cut costs amid a tight budget.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee called the hearing to deal with reports mail delivery problems resulted from a Trump administration policy opposing mail-in voting.
President Donald Trump has said voting by mail for the upcoming Nov. 3 election is likely to be subjected to far-reaching voter fraud.
Nevertheless, federal and local lawmakers plan to proceed with widespread voting by mail. An estimated 160 million ballots are expected to be cast by mail this year, according to federal election officials.
Many lawmakers say the coronavirus pandemic leaves them no better option to avoid spreading the disease at traditional polling places.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Trump’s position against voting by mail is unrelated to his attempts to create cost efficiencies.
“We have a $10 billion shortfall,” DeJoy told the Senate committee.
The coronavirus has deepened the Postal Service’s financial woes by keeping many workers off the job, either because of illness or fear of contracting the disease, he said.
Nevertheless, he reassured the senators the election results would not be impeded by Postal Service delivery issues.
Compared with daily deliveries more than twice as high as the expected number of mail-in votes, “160 million ballots over the course of a week is a very small amount,” DeJoy said.
Recent issues have included decommissioning of sorting machines to prepare letters for delivery, according to a Government Accountability Office report in May. In addition, delivery trucks sometimes have left late on their delivery routes, particularly as coronavirus creates a manpower shortage.
During the election, “We will have additional resources on standby,” DeJoy said.
He added, “I think the American people can feel comfortable that the Postal Service will deliver on this election.”
He cautioned that even if the election mail is delivered flawlessly, the Postal Service continues to face a financial crisis.
“Without assistance, we will run out of money,” he said.
In the less than three months since he took over as postmaster general, DeJoy has made plans to reconfigure delivery routes, curtail some services in sparsely populated areas and shut down equipment that is not absolutely necessary.
“The operating plan needs to cover its costs,” he said.
He said the idea of continuing previous levels of service without additional federal funding demonstrated “outrageous thinking” by members of Congress.
Some Democrats on the Senate committee were unconvinced financial worries were the only reason the Postal Service was confronting delivery trouble. They expressed lingering suspicions that Trump was fueling Postal Service complications to block voting by mail.
Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan told about people whose deliveries of prescription medicines were falling behind their doctors’ recommendations.
“These are real concerns I’m hearing,” Peters said. “They are not manufactured.”
Republicans, such as Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, showed greater support for DeJoy’s contention that he was dealing with serious economic issues.
He accused Democrats of engaging in “a very false narrative designed to extract a political advantage.”
He also said there was a possibility of additional financial backing for the Postal Service in an emergency coronavirus relief bill Congress is considering.
In The News
President Joe Biden's nominees to the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service pledged Thursday to rebuild trust with the American public through prompt deliveries, as they outlined a vison for the agency in their first formal statements to lawmakers.The nominees — Ron Stroman, a former... Read More
WASHINGTON - In response to constituents complaints over woeful mail service, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., on Wednesday joined an effort urging President Joe Biden to fill existing U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors vacancies as quickly as possible. According to several recent reports, operational changes currently... Read More
WASHINGTON - More than 136 million ballots passed through U.S. Postal Service facilities and were delivered to state election officials during the 2020 election cycle, a new report from the USPS says. The data includes mail-in ballots sent in by voters in the Georgia Senate Run-off... Read More
A postal worker in Pennsylvania has admitted to making up explosive accusations about mail-in voting irregularities in the 2020 election that were picked up by supporters of President Donald Trump as supposed evidence of fraud, according to congressional investigators. Richard Hopkins, a U.S. Postal Service employee in Erie, Pa., first alleged last week... Read More
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge harshly criticized the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday, saying the agency had failed to comply with his order to sweep postal facilities for leftover mail-in ballots in battleground states where election officials continue to count votes. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., also ordered postal... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to make every effort to deliver mail-in ballots in three crucial swing states by Election Day due to uncertainty over whether votes that arrive after that will be counted. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington on Sunday ordered the USPS to send notices to managers "reiterating... Read More