WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers on both side of the aisle are telling the U.S. Postal Service that delivery delays must be resolved before the November election, when an unprecedented number of Americans are expected to vote by mail.
It’s unclear, however, if Congress will allocate more funds to the post office.
Democrats are starting by demanding answers from new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
“This is unacceptable. People expect the mail to be delivered on time,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said. “Many people get lifesaving medicines through the mail.”
Three months from the general election — in which Peters faces a Republican challenger — there have been reports of long-delayed mail. Peters said the problem lies in the major spending cuts DeJoy is implementing.
“They’re eliminating overtime. They’re eliminating extra trips. … Some of the sorting isn’t being done by machine and it’s being forced to be hand-sorted,” Peters listed.
“We need to look into this and investigate exactly what’s happening,” he added.
He and other Democrats in the House Oversight Committee want DeJoy to testify before a hearing to explain his policy changes. DeJoy did meet with Democratic leaders Wednesday.
The U.S. Postal Service has defended the changes, noting it has been losing money for decades and arguing it must build a more stable and cost-effective business model.
“I know there need to be reforms, there need to be cost savings. That’s fine, but they cannot compromise the delivery, efficient delivery, to rural Missouri,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who is not up for reelection until 2024, said.
He said the leadup to Election Day is no time for delays.
“(It’s) absolutely vital that those absentee ballots get on time to the folks who have requested them by mail and then they get back on time so they can be counted,” Hawley said.
The last coronavirus aid package provided a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service, but that is expected to run out early next week. Democrats want to include $25 billion in the next relief package to prop up the post office, but Republicans so far aren’t biting.