What’s happening to the U.S. Postal Service? That’s a question many Americans have been asking in recent weeks. And today, just as President Donald Trump’s Postmaster General released a vague statement meant to reassure Americans amidst recent mail delays and service cuts, three of Nevada’s members of Congress held press conferences to demand answers and promise solutions.
What happened to the U.S. Postal Service?
Michelle Obama: "We've gotta vote early, in person if we can. We've got to request our mail-in ballots right now, tonight, and send them back immediately and follow up to make sure they're received, and then make sure our friends and families do the same." https://t.co/ox37AApufY pic.twitter.com/sgDuOU8l51
— ABC News (@ABC) August 18, 2020
Late last month, we discussed the impending threat of President Donald Trump’s moves to “reform” (read: destroy) the U.S. Postal Service:
Trump’s swamp of corruption now extends deep into the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), as his hand-picked postmaster general is tearing the Post Office apart from within. Trump’s apparatchiks have already begun the groundwork to change USPS’ shipping rates to weaken its position against more expensive private sector shippers like FedEx and UPS. This might seem “fair” and “free market” at face value, but in reality this threatens small businesses and working-class people who can’t always afford FedEx’s and UPS’ higher prices, and who certainly can’t afford to create their own proprietary shipping systems like Amazon has.
“Getting back to the Post Office, USPS has already begun cutting its mail delivery budget, and that has already led to delays in mail deliveries. Considering how more and more voters, especially those voters who will likely choose former Vice President Joe Biden over Donald Trump, plan to vote by mail this fall, Trump may have picked the perfect time to begin “reforming” USPS. If you’re still wondering how Trump can possibly interfere with the election, stop wondering. The answer is right at your mailbox.
Since then, the impending threat has become a full-scale war on the U.S. Postal Service. Mail delays have only worsened, the decommissioning of mail sorting machines will lead to even more delays, and U.S. Postal Service executives only ceased removing blue mail drop boxes after public outrage began to grow. When Michelle Obama declared, “We’ve gotta vote early, in person if we can,” at the Democratic National Convention last night, that was a tell-tale sign that Democratic Party insiders are finally beginning to worry that Trump’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service will result in a far more burdensome voting experience than most Americans are accustomed to.
“Everyone talks about Amazon’s shipping. Fast, free, two-day shipping costs a tremendous amount of money. The U.S. Postal Service helps us stay competitive by offering fast shipping at a lower rate.”
– RJ Khalaf, Las Vegas business owner
Today Reps. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas), Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas), and Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas). At her event at the Sunset Road Post Office, Lee declared that protecting mail delivery is essential. And at their virtual press conference with various community leaders, just minutes after 20+ states announced a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration and right before Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced a suspension of further service disruptions until after the election, Titus and Horsford amplified the message that Americans must act to save the U.S. Postal Service.
Getting back to what I wrote last month, and what many others have detailed about the danger of just letting the U.S. Postal Service die and inviting the likes of Amazon, FedEx, and UPS to pick over its rotting carcass, Nevada State Association of Letter Carriers Vice President Richard Griffin, himself a 36-year USPS letter carrier who retired in 2016, noted, “FedEx and UPS [often] drop off their packages to us to deliver. It’s called the ‘last mile’. […] We deliver to areas where they don’t deliver all the time.”
Local small business owner and civil rights activist RJ Khalaf also chimed in on this topic and explained, “Everyone talks about Amazon’s shipping. Fast, free [to consumers], two-day shipping costs a tremendous amount of money. The Postal Service helps us stay competitive by offering fast shipping at a lower rate.” Khalaf noted how the U.S. Postal Service has helped his business stay afloat by enabling him to shift his business model from in-person to online sales, and he later added, “For smaller packages, the Post Office beats FedEx and UPS every time. With them, delivery would cost more and go slower.”
“The Postal Service is dedicated to sending mail to every location in the United States, even the most remote locations. […] People depend on the Postal Service for medication, check payments, order deliveries, mail-in ballots, and much more.”
– Rep. Steven Horsford
Horsford also addressed this perennial question of why the U.S. Postal Service is still needed in this emerging era of “Amazon world domination”. After alluding to Amazon’s recent layoffs of 1,200+ delivery workers, as well as the growing digital divide between the “very online” urban and suburban markets and the rural communities where Amazon and the other private delivery companies don’t deliver because they’re not as profitable, Horsford pointed out, “Many of my communities don’t have reliable broadband connectivity. They don’t have as easy access to [Amazon, FedEx, and UPS].”
Horsford also declared, “The Postal Service is dedicated to sending mail to every location in the United States, even the most remote locations. […] People depend on the Postal Service for medication, check payments, order deliveries, mail-in ballots, and much more.”
Titus later noted Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s major conflict of interest, considering he sold his company to the Connecticut-based freight transportation company XPO Logistics for $615 million in 2014 and continued serving on XPO’s Board of Directors until 2018. She also noted the other glaring conflict of interest in DeJoy’s recent history as a Trump campaign and Republican Party mega-donor, along with Trump’s statement that, “If they don’t get [funding], that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting,” some three months after DeJoy began his “cost-cutting measures” with Trump’s approval.
On Trump’s antagonistic approach to the Postal Service, Titus vented, “He has set about his work to dismantle the Post Office, and the president has admitted he’s doing this to prevent absentee ballots from going out. […] He wants to force people to choose between protecting their own health and participating in this election.”
“We can’t take a pause. Seniors can’t take a pause from their medicine. Businesses can’t take a pause from delivering their goods.”
– Rep. Dina Titus
This is a start. But we still need to reverse all the damage, fully fund @USPS, & investigate DeJoy’s conflicts. And we need to keep our eyes on DeJoy so he keeps his promise & doesn’t find new ways to dismantle the USPS.
I’ll be watching DeJoy’s actions – not just his words. pic.twitter.com/DNlGKqZSwt
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 18, 2020
While DeJoy just announced the suspension of further cuts to U.S. Postal Service operations, Democratic leaders appear to be continuing their demands for restoration of prior cuts, DeJoy testifying in both houses of Congress next week, and $25 billion in emergency funding to prevent USPS from being effectively strangled to death before November. So far DeJoy has agreed to testify to Congress, but he has not stated whether he’ll restore any service or staffing cuts made before today.
Both Titus and Horsford noted that they already voted for the HEROES Act in May that contained emergency funding for the Postal Service, and that Senate Republican leaders notoriously hit the pause button on further federal COVID-19 relief efforts, a pause on relief funding that’s now exacerbating America’s COVID-19-induced recession. They then promised that House Democrats will continue their efforts to secure funding and policy changes to prevent further harm to the Postal Service.
According to Titus, “We can’t take a pause. Seniors can’t take a pause from their medicine. Businesses can’t take a pause from delivering their goods.” Now, it’s up to Congressional Democrats to step up their efforts while assessing how much of a “pause” the Trump administration is really taking in its war on the U.S. Postal Service.