Under pressure from two lawsuits being filed by at least 20 state attorneys general on Tuesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that there will be no further changes to postal services until after the general election in November.
DeJoy says, however, that these changes aren’t delayed indefinitely. “I believe significant reforms are essential … and work toward those reforms will commence after the election,” DeJoy said in a statement.
DeJoy, a Republican donor, has come under intense scrutiny since he began rolling out significant cuts to mail services that, combined with President Donald Trump’s unfounded remarks about mail-in voting, have led critics to suspect that these changes may have been made to interfere with an election that will be uniquely reliant on mail-in ballots. United States Postal Services (USPS) officials have already warned 46 states that, due to the volume, they cannot guarantee that all of the ballots will be counted, come November.
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Since DeJoy took office in June, he has cracked down on overtime, shortened post office hours and prohibited carriers from making extra trips to deliver late mail. This has led to backlogs at local post offices and delays in mail delivery, including prescription medicines delivered by mail. DeJoy is hobbling mail infrastructure, too, with hundreds of mail sorting machines slated to be removed, according to internal USPS documents.
Delaying the remainder of these changes, however, is not quite what the attorneys general are demanding. The Democratic attorneys seek not only to stop changes but to reverse the changes that have already been made, as they are already affecting essential mail deliveries and threaten the election.
“For partisan gain, President Trump is attempting to destroy a critical institution that is essential for millions of Americans,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is leading a coalition of 14 states in one of the lawsuits, in a statement. “We rely on the Postal Service for our Social Security benefits, prescriptions — and exercising our right to vote.”
The lawsuits led by Ferguson and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro lay similar claims: that DeJoy illegally changed operations without consulting the Postal Regulatory Commission. Shapiro was not placated by the news that DeJoy was planning to halt changes, saying that “a tweet or a statement or a press release is one thing. We need to see binding action to reverse these changes.”
These sentiments echo those of several letters sent by Senate Democrats urging DeJoy and the postal service to reverse course to protect the validity of the election. A letter released Monday, signed by Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and five others, prompts the little-known Postal Service Board of Governors to roll back DeJoy and Trump’s attempts 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 letter reads.
DeJoy is set to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday. It will be the first time that lawmakers, displaying a rare bipartisan interest in the matter, will have a chance to publicly question DeJoy about election-related turmoil and service disruptions.