This August the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) unexpectedly became a center of national attention.
Three weeks ago, President Trump admitted during a FoxNews interview that he was blocking funding for USPS to prevent people from voting by mail.
Within days I received hundreds of calls and emails from constituents urging Congress to oppose Trump’s efforts to sabotage USPS. Many also reported delays in mail delivery, which harmed local businesses and prevented people from receiving life-saving medicine, and most were fearful of the effects on the election in November.
I took these comments directly to US Postal Service headquarters, where I joined my colleagues from the region to stand in solidarity with postal workers and demand an end to attacks on the agency.
Upon hearing of operational changes, including elimination of overtime and other staffing cuts and the removal of blue mailboxes and sorting machines, members of Congress requested an Inspector General investigation, which was subsequently launched. The House and Senate are also holding hearings as part of their own investigations, which have already turned up troubling evidence of recent, sharp declines in USPS delivery service.
In a hearing held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the recently-retired former USPS Inspector General told me that the changes ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were not previously planned and would not save USPS money. I have called for DeJoy’s resignation.
Days later, the House passed (and I voted for) the Delivering for America Act, which would block and reverse the recent changes put in place by DeJoy, require the restoration of mailboxes and sorting machines, and direct $25 billion in emergency funding to USPS to ensure improvements in delivery service and protect our elections. More information on the bill, which passed on a bipartisan vote, is available here.
I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.
The U.S. Postal Service is enshrined in the Constitution and has helped keep Americans connected to one another for centuries. We must do all we can to protect it.