Top congressional Democrats demanded Thursday that the postmaster general reverse recent changes in policy that they say are hurting mail delivery.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wrote in a letter to Inspector General Louis DeJoy that the changes he has imposed, including cuts to overtime, new mail sorting and delivery policies, and restricting extra mail trips, are undermining the U.S. Postal Service.
“We believe these changes, made during the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, now 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,” they wrote. “While it is true that the Postal Service has and continues to face financial challenges, enacting these policies as cost-cutting or efficiency measures as the COVID-19 public health emergency continues is counterproductive and unacceptable.”
Last month, the postal service implemented new cost-saving measures that cut overtime for hundreds of thousands of workers, spurring concern that it would trigger massive delays in deliveries. Mr. DeJoy has said the U.S. Postal Service is facing a liquidity crisis after losing money for years and operating with a “broken” business model. Officials have warned that the agency could run out of money by the end of September and requested $75 billion in emergency funding.
The cost-cutting measures were imposed last month after Mr. DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser and former supply-chain executive, took over the top job in June. He is the first postmaster general in nearly two decades who is not a career postal employee. He met with Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi Wednesday in a closed-door session that Mr. Schumer called “a heated discussion.” They told Mr. DeJoy that “elections are sacred” and urged him not to impose cutbacks “at a time when all ballots count.”
The $2 trillion relief bill Congress passed in March authorized $10 billion in loans for the Postal Service if it finds that it can’t fund its operating expenses because of the pandemic.
The Republican stimulus proposal does not include any aid for the Postal Service. Democrats’ $3 trillion package allocated $25 billion, although they reportedly have lowered their request to $10 billion.
David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, declined to comment on the Democrats’ letter. 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.
• This article is based in part on wire-service reports.
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