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Postal Service Urged to Undo Changes   08/07 06:15

   Lawmakers from both parties are calling on the U.S. Postal Service to 
immediately reverse operational changes that are causing delays in deliveries 
across the country just as big volume increases are expected for mail-in 
election voting.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers from both parties are calling on the U.S. 
Postal Service to immediately reverse operational changes that are causing 
delays in deliveries across the country just as big volume increases are 
expected for mail-in election voting.

   Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck 
Schumer said Thursday that changes imposed by the new Republican postmaster 
general "threaten the timely delivery of mail --- including medicines for 
seniors, paychecks for workers and absentee ballots for voters --- that is 
essential to millions of Americans.''

   In separate letters, two Montana Republicans, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. 
Greg Gianforte, also urged the Postal Service to reverse the July directive, 
which eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and 
mandates that mail be kept until the next day if distribution centers are 
running late.

   And 84 House members --- including four Republicans --- signed yet another 
letter blasting the changes and urging an immediate reversal.

   "This action, if not rescinded, will negatively impact mail delivery for 
Montanans and unacceptably increase the risk of late prescriptions, commercial 
products or bill delivery,'' Daines said Thursday in a letter to Postmaster 
General Louis DeJoy.

   "Delaying mail service is unacceptable," Gianforte wrote to DeJoy. "Do not 
continue down this road."

   In their letter, the 84 House members said it is "vital that the Postal 
Service does not reduce mail delivery hours, which could harm rural 
communities, seniors, small businesses and millions of Americans who rely on 
the mail for critical letters and packages.'' The letter was led by Rep. 
Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, who has 
called DeJoy to testify at a hearing next month.

   The flurry of letters came as the top Democrat on a Senate panel that 
oversees the Postal Service launched an investigation into the operational 
changes.

   The cost-cutting measures, intended to address the Postal Service's longtime 
financial problems, were imposed last month after DeJoy, a Republican 
fundraiser and former supply chain executive, took over the top job in June. 
DeJoy, 63, of North Carolina, is a major donor to President Donald Trump and 
the Republican Party. He is the first postmaster general in nearly two decades 
who is not a career postal employee.

   Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs Committee, said DeJoy has failed to provide answers about 
the service delays, despite repeated requests.

   Peters is asking the public to provide their stories about delays or other 
problems with deliveries.

   The Senate inquiry comes as lawmakers increasingly focus on the Postal 
Service, which is reeling from mail delays and financial problems at a time 
when record numbers of mail ballots are expected in the November presidential 
election because of the coronavirus pandemic.

   Trump, a vocal critic of the Postal Service, contended Wednesday that "the 
Post Office doesn't have enough time" to handle a significant increase in 
mail-in ballots. "I mean you're talking about millions of votes. .. It's a 
catastrophe waiting to happen."

   DeJoy met with Schumer and Pelosi Wednesday in a closed-door session that 
Schumer called "a heated discussion." Democrats told DeJoy that "elections are 
sacred" and urged him not to impose cutbacks "at a time when all ballots 
count," Schumer said.

   "For 245 years, the Postal Service has worked to provide reliable, 
consistent and on-time delivery that keeps Americans connected no matter where 
they live --- especially in rural areas," Peters said. "Unfortunately, in 
recent weeks, I've heard firsthand from constituents, postal workers and local 
officials in Michigan who have encountered problems with the timely and 
dependable service they count on to conduct business, get prescription 
medications and critical supplies and even exercise their right to vote.''

   Democrats have pushed for $10 billion for the Postal Service in talks with 
Republicans on a huge COVID-19 response bill. The figure is down from a $25 
billion plan in a House-passed coronavirus measure. Key Republicans whose rural 
constituents are especially reliant on the post office support the idea.

   With her state's vast and difficult terrain, "the Postal Service is a 
primary source of knowledge, commerce and basic necessities," said Sen. Lisa 
Murkowski, R-Alaska. For Alaskans, additional help from Congress "is truly a 
necessity --- not a convenience,'' she said.

   David Partenheimer, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, declined to 
comment on the letter from Democrats. But he said the agency is using all 
available resources to "match the workload created by the impacts of the 
ongoing coronavirus pandemic." The Postal Service has "a liberal leave policy" 
and is aggressively trying to hire qualified candidates to replace tens of 
thousands of workers who have gotten sick or opted not to work because of the 
pandemic, he said.

   "We appreciate the patience of our customers and the efforts of employees as 
conditions change on a day-to-day basis," he said.

   Partenheimer disputed reports that the Postal Service is slowing down 
election mail or any other mail. "We continue to employ a robust and proven 
process to ensure proper handling of all election mail consistent with our 
standards,'' he said.

   Republican Reps. Peter King of New York, David McKinley of West Virginia, 
Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Daniel Webster of Florida joined the 
House letter, which was signed by 80 Democrats.

 
 
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