AUGUSTA FREE PRESS, CHRIS GRAHAM
The House voted 257-150 in a rare Saturday session to approve $25 billion for the United States Postal Service and ban operational changes that have been slowing mail service across the country.
The Delivering for America Act passed along largely party lines after the House Oversight Committee released internal USPS documents showing sharp declines in delivery service across the country since early July.
The Aug. 12 internal USPS slide presentation prepared for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, obtained and released by the committee, shows an overall drop in service in first-class and priority mail, marketing and periodicals.
“The American people depend on the U.S. Postal Service for their businesses, their medical treatment, and this year, for their election,” Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA-08) said. “Donald Trump’s admission that he was sabotaging the USPS to prevent people from voting during a pandemic was a call to action for everyone who cares about this important service and the sanctity of our elections. The House answered that call today by passing this legislation, and I will continue doing all I can to help safeguard our democratic process and ensure fair elections.”
The Delivering for America Act would prohibit any change affecting service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis, any revision of existing service standards, closing, consolidating or reducing the hours of any post office or postal facility, any prohibition on paying overtime to Postal Service officers or employees, any change that would prevent the Postal Service from meeting its service standards or cause a decline in measurements of performance relative to those standards, and any change having the effect of delaying mail or increasing the volume of undelivered mail.
“Millions of Americans rely on the USPS to maintain their livelihoods as they deliver medication, essential goods, and learning materials that people need,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA-02). “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially critical for us to protect this indispensable institution. Additionally, veterans make up a significant portion of the USPS workforce, as almost 100,000 USPS employees served our nation in the Armed Forces. The USPS should not be a political bargaining chip when Americans lives are on the line. I urge the Senate to pass this critical bill.”
The measure would also require the Postal Service to treat all official election mail as First-Class mail, prohibit the removal, decommissioning or other stoppage of mail sorting machines, other than for routine maintenance, prohibit the removal of mailboxes, and explicitly reverse any changes already implemented to the operations or policies of the Postal Service that delay mail delivery.
“There should be nothing partisan about mail delivery and service here in the United States — and today I was proud to vote in support of legislation to preserve and protect this integral American institution,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07). “Instead of dismantling and calling into question the integrity of our postal system, we should take actual steps to address the root causes of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties — and we should make every effort to protect USPS operations ahead of the November election and beyond.”
Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) voted against the bill, calling it “purely partisan politics put forth to give Democrats another anti-Republican talking point.”
“The USPS is still financially troubled, but officials have stated that it has enough funding available and the resources necessary to deliver mail-in ballots during the upcoming election,” Wittman said. “The USPS currently has $14 billion on hand and an additional $10 billion available from the U.S. Treasury to ensure uninterrupted operations through next year. Additionally, Postmaster General DeJoy has indicated that the Post Office has the full capacity to handle all anticipated mail in ballots. The USPS handles roughly 471 million pieces of mail a day, meaning that if all 330 million people in the United States were to mail in a ballot over this election cycle, the Post Office would easily be able to handle that volume.
“We must work to find real, workable solutions for the American people, and I will continue to call on my colleagues to find those solutions in a bipartisan manner,” Wittman said.