By Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform
The United States Postal Service is a critical component of our national infrastructure, providing a lifeline of medications, supplies, and mail for all Americans—no matter where they live. The Postal Service has become even more important as our nation contends with the COVID-19 pandemic and the November election in which more Americans will cast mail-in ballots than ever before.
So, alarm bells went off this summer when newly installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy oversaw sweeping changes to the Postal Service without first consulting with Congress or stakeholders.
Last week, the Postal Service Inspector General released a report on these disastrous operational changes, confirming they were hastily implemented without analysis of their potential impact. This, of course, played a major role in the serious delays we are still witnessing across the country.
The report found: “The collective results of these initiatives, combined with the ongoing employee availability challenges resulting from the pandemic, negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery nationally. The Postal Service’s mail service performance significantly dropped beginning in July 2020, directly corresponding to implementation of the operational changes and initiatives.”
As the nation began to see this drop off in performance, the Committee on Oversight and Reform, which I chair, began working to hold the Postmaster General accountable for these operational changes and to find out how these changes were implemented, and why.
On Aug. 24, 2020, I held a hearing during which the Postmaster General and the Chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors both failed to provide adequate answers as to why these changes were made without any consultation or analysis.
In last week’s report, the Inspector General also found that the Postal Service was not fully forthcoming with Congress and the American people, calling into question whether the Postmaster General is continuing to mislead Congress and the American people to this day.
On Sept. 2, 2020, the Committee issued a subpoena to Postmaster General DeJoy for documents related to these delays.
Millions of people rely on the Postal Service every day to communicate, to receive critical medications, and to vote. At this juncture in our nation’s history, when the number of Americans voting by mail for this Presidential election is expected to more than double from the last election, it is up to Congress to protect the right of all eligible citizens to have their vote counted. A once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency.
Our Postal Service should not be an instrument of partisan politics, but instead must be protected as an independent agency that focuses on delivering the mail.
And the courts agree. Multiple federal judges have ordered the Postal Service to halt these changes. Unfortunately, as the Inspector General’s report shows, service levels have not yet been fully restored.
This is why the Senate needs to pass my Delivering for America Act immediately. My bill, which the House passed with bipartisan support in August, will restore service to pre-DeJoy levels, return service standards to where they were on January 1, 2020, and keep them in place until this pandemic ends.
As Americans continue to rely on their mail for lifesaving services, we know that “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” will stop our postal employees from doing their jobs. It’s up to Congress to ensure that the Postmaster General does not stop them either.