Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Postmaster general stops changes after uproar over slower delivery; will testify before Congress

"Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, facing intense backlash over cost-cutting moves that Democrats, state attorneys general and civil rights groups warn could jeopardize mail-in voting, said on Tuesday that the Postal Service would suspend those operational changes until after the 2020 election," The New York Times reports. "The measures, which included eliminating overtime for mail carriers, reducing post office hours and removing postal boxes, have been faulted for slowing mail delivery and criticized as an attempt to disenfranchise voters seeking to vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic."

DeJoy said that retail hours at post offices would remain the same, that no processing facilities would close, and that overtime would continue to be approved where appropriate. "It was unclear, however, whether the agency would reverse measures already put in place across the country that union officials and workers say have inflicted deep damage to the Postal Service," the Times reports. "That includes the removal of hundreds of mail-sorting machines, according to a June 17 letter sent from the Postal Service to the American Postal Workers Union. Some of those machines have already been destroyed, union officials and workers said.

DeJoy announced the pullback as at least 20 Democratic attorneys general said they plan to file federal lawsuits alleging that DeJoy is illegally changing mail procedures in an effort to suppress votes, the Times reports. 

House and Senate lawmakers, meanwhile, have summoned DeJoy to testify. Beyond that, Congress has limited options for ensuring that the Postal Service is ready for a fair and well-run presidential election conducted mostly by mail, Amber Phillips reports for The Washington Post. They can continue to encourage voters to speak up. They can also lean on the board of governors—most installed by Trump—who choose the postmaster general to remove DeJoy, pressure the Postal Service's inspector general to investigate DeJoy's changes and his possible conflicts of interest, and more. 

Meanwhile, the slowed mail delivery is causing problems for many small businesses, Ben Werschkul reports for Yahoo! Finance.

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