WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general says he is halting some operational changes to mail delivery to “avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”
The decision comes as more than 20 states have sued over the changes. In parts of the country, union workers and some Democratic lawmakers rallied in support of USPS, saying it’s about more than just mail-in voting. They say some people rely on postal workers to get them important medication, especially during the pandemic.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday he would “suspend” several of his initiatives — including the removal of the distinctive blue mailboxes — until after the election.
DeJoy also said he is halting the planned removal of mail-processing machines, as well as an initiative to change retail hours at post offices. He also said no mail processing facilities will be closed and said the agency has not eliminated overtime.
“We will deliver the nation’s election mail on time,” DeJoy said in a statement.
DeJoy is set to testify Friday before the Senate. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing ahead with Saturday’s vote to prevent election-year mail changes and provide emergency postal funds.
“I don’t, frankly, trust the postmaster general,” Pelosi said in San Francisco.
At the White House, President Trump has denied he is seeking to slow down the mail.
“You can’t have millions and millions of ballots sent all over the place, sent to people that are dead, sent to dogs, cats, sent everywhere,” Trump told reporters.
More Americans than ever are expected to choose to vote absentee during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The United States Postal Service will play a critical role this year in delivering election mail for millions of voters across the country. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.
I want to make a few things clear:
The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.
I am announcing today the expansion of our current leadership taskforce on election mail to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country. Leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining this taskforce to ensure strong coordination throughout our organization. Because of the unprecedented demands of the 2020 election, this taskforce will help ensure that election officials and voters are well informed and fully supported by the Postal Service.
I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.
I want to assure all Americans of the following:
– Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
– Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
– No mail processing facilities will be closed.
– And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.
In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.
I am grateful for the commitment and dedication of all the men and women of the Postal Service, and the trust they earn from the American public every day, especially as we continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19. As we move forward, they will have the full support of our organization throughout the election.”Louis DeJoy, POSTMASTER GENERAL
The Associated Press contributed to this report.