The United States Postal Service has been no exception to the hard financial times incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic, and New York Senator Charles Schumer says it will need a $25 billion rescue from the federal government to continue its essential services, including sending and delivering election ballots.
Schumer reported Sunday that the federal agency could close branches throughout the states, including New York City and Long Island, and operational funding as well as for personal protective equipment is at a critical need.
Starting Monday, Schumer says he will begin a push for major funding through a COVID-19 stimulus package, but as of yet, it is unclear whether or not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow a bill to reach the floor for a vote. It has been three months since the HEROES Act has been passed by congress but the bill packed with transit and governmental support has been stalled, perceived as a “blue state bailout” by McConnell.
“The fact is, the coronavirus has severely crippled USPS operations and their funds. Despite that, they have kept the doors open, the mail — and really the economy — moving, and now they need the help to sustain their pace,” Schumer said. “The fight to keep our post offices open by injecting the dollars needed to do the job and purchase the personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies required to keep everyone safe will begin tomorrow, and I am here to say: I vow to lead it.”
With mail volume down by 30%, Schumer expects USPS to lose up to $22 billion over the next 18 months, as reported by the Associated Press.
Not mention by Schumer is the critical role USPS has come to play in elections in a country gripped by an epidemic, lack of support for post offices could impact democracy as the election cycle moves into full spin. The June 23 primaries have already come and gone, though the city Board of Elections still sifts through hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots. The November presidential election, high stakes given the current political climate, is still in the offing.
“We are unable to predict the duration of COVID-19 business closures and the duration of the recession we are currently experiencing: however, this situation will materially damage our financial condition,” USPS Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett said. “While we continue to conserve capital and reduce expenses in areas where volumes are declining, our ability to continue to serve the nation will require substantial finding [sic] from the federal government or other sources.”
Which facets of USPS’ operations will be cut were not expounded upon nor was there mention of any specific number closures.