CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT, CLINT SCHEMMER
To learn how workers plan to handle an expected flood of mail this fall, U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, and A. Donald McEachin, D-4th, toured a Postal Service processing center Thursday.
The House members met with Postal Service employees and discussed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and agency management’s recent operational changes ahead of a widely anticipated spike in general-election voting by mail.
In August, Spanberger cosponsored and helped pass the Delivering for America Act, which would reverse changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that have delayed mail delivery in Virginia and across the nation, scrapped high-capacity sorting machines, removed blue mailboxes and cut overtime for postal workers.
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich, has sponsored similar legislation, the Delivering for America Act. His bill, SB 4527, has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“I’ve repeatedly pushed back against Postmaster General DeJoy’s attempts to harm USPS employees, restrict delivery, and slow down sorting,” Spanberger said Thursday in a statement. “Today, I got a ground-level view of how these changes have been impacting facilities in Virginia and across the country.”
She said that in recent months, her office has received more than 1,000 survey responses from Central Virginians who depend on the Postal Service to get prescription drugs, fill customer orders and complete paperwork for their small businesses, send paychecks to employees, pay bills and mortgages, and vote safely.
In rural parts of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, the Postal Service is especially vital as many private mail carriers hand off items to the agency for the final miles of delivery, lacking business incentive to carry letters and parcels to remote addresses, Spanberger’s office said.
As the nation nears an election in which mail balloting is expected to be crucial and more families, veterans and seniors relying on the mail during the coronavirus pandemic, she said she’ll continue working with the 7th District’s Postal Service partners “to ensure that we are defending this institution at the federal level and strengthening it for our local communities.”
The Richmond Processing and Distribution Center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sorting and dispatching all inbound and outbound mail to and from local post offices and collection boxes in Central Virginia.
During their tour, Spanberger and McEachin spoke with senior plant manager Deshon Scott-Hopwood about how COVID-19 has affected the plant and got an update on decommissioned Postal Service equipment.
The Democrat from Henrico County thanked the center’s employees for playing a vital role in seeing that correspondence, commerce and information flow freely through the 7th District’s communities.
McEachin called the Postal Service “a critical lifeline for all Americans.”
“In light of recent reports detailing sweeping, operational changes at USPS that have slowed mail delivery, we must maintain the American people’s trust and confidence in the USPS to provide these important essential services,” McEachin said. “I am pleased to have strong partners like Rep. Spanberger in the fight to preserve the strength and integrity of one of our nation’s most prized and long-standing federal institutions.”
Spanberger’s Delivering for America Act would bar and reverse any operational changes affecting mail delivery during the COVID-19 crisis, and provide $25 billion for pandemic response efforts.
Additionally, Spanberger launched a survey to gather information from constituents about any mail delays they were experiencing. The survey garnered more than 1,100 responses and Central Virginians have shared stories about delays to everything from prescription drugs to mail-order supplies.
Spanberger has also supported several resolutions to defend six-day mail service, protect the Postal Service from being privatized, and ensure to-the-door delivery for all residential and commercial customers.
She cosponsored the bipartisan USPS Fairness Act, which would repeal a current requirement that the Postal Service annually prepay future retirement health benefits.