Wyden, Oregon colleagues demand postmaster general end mail delivery delays

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader demanded Monday that U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy rescind his orders that have unacceptably slowed mail delivery across Oregon and the nation. 

In their letter to DeJoy, the Oregon lawmakers noted their concerns are heightened by the raging pandemic and the Nov. 3 election just weeks away. They wrote that DeJoy’s actions at Donald Trump’s behest deliberately threaten the delivery of needed medications and undermine the functioning of the state’s proven vote-by-mail system during the window when ballots are mailed to voters and Election Day.

“In July, you instructed mail carriers to “leave mail behind at distribution centers” if mail could not be completely distributed without overtime, and you eliminated overtime, which letter carriers typically use to complete mail distribution,” wrote Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio, Blumenauer, Bonamici and Schrader. “This needless and reckless change in precedent has already led to delayed delivery of bills, checks and prescription drugs.”

 “Unexpected delays at any point during this window could easily prevent Oregonians’ and Americans’ ballots from counting in the November 3 general election,” the Oregon lawmakers wrote. “USPS’ own General Counsel Thomas Marshall has said the same. Make no mistake: We consider these contrived delays to be blatant election interference.”

Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio, Blumenauer, Bonamici and Schrader said the Postal Service needs support and investment to continue reliably serving all Americans and our constituents, not arbitrary bureaucratic hurdles and slowdowns. 

“We in Congress are working to provide significant funding for USPS to ensure both its long-term solvency and capacity to handle an influx of mail-in ballots this fall,” they wrote. “If you and the President are truly concerned about the capability of USPS to deliver for Americans, you should work with House, Senate and Executive leadership to fix the problem—not further cut service standards under the guise of operational efficiencies.

“It is shameful and disheartening to watch partisan actions consume this proud American institution that connects Oregon to its neighbors and our nation,” they wrote. “We demand on behalf of our constituents that you rescind your orders and restore full service and functionality to the Postal Service immediately.”

The entire letter is here.

Wyden, D-Ore. also joined colleagues in sending a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors, calling on it to immediately use its authority under the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 to reverse changes to postal service operations and mail service delays put in place by Trump megadonor turned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

In addition to Wyden, the letter is signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.

“We ask that you immediately take action to reverse any and all changes put in place by Mr.  DeJoy that degrade or delay postal operations and the delivery of the mail,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. The letter continued: “(s)hould he not cooperate with these efforts, you have the authority, under the Postal Reorganization Act, to remove the Postmaster General.”

DeJoy’s short tenure has endangered millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service to keep in touch with their friends and family, obtain prescription drugs and other daily needs, and access their Social Security, VA, and other benefits. His actions threaten the ability of Americans to vote in the 2020 elections. Within days of his appointment, DeJoy has cut back hours at some post offices, denied overtime to mail clerks and carriers, and required that carriers leave some mail behind. Just within the last several weeks, DeJoy removed two top executives who oversee the day to day operations of the USPS, and reports indicate that the USPS is decommissioning 10% of its mail sorting machines and removing dozens of mailboxes – with no valid explanation. These changes have already delayed mail delivery “by as much as a week,” and the Postal Service has warned 46 states that it “cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.”

The lawmakers noted in their letter that the Board of Governors – not DeJoy alone – “directs the exercise of the powers of the Postal Service, directs and controls its expenditures, reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning, approves officer compensation and sets policies on all postal matters.”  It also “takes up matters such as service standards and capital investments.” The Board is designed not to be a partisan body. Federal law specifically restricts the number of Governors belonging to any one political party and requires that Governors be “chosen solely on the basis of their experience” in fields relevant to Postal Service administration. While members are appointed by the President, the duty of Governors is to “represent the public interest generally.”  

“It is critical that you act immediately to address efforts by President Trump and Mr. DeJoy to sabotage the Postal Service…It is time to use your full power and authority on behalf of the Postal Service, the American people, and the ‘public interest’ you are required to represent,” the lawmakers wrote. 

A full copy of the letter is here.