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Massive bailout will not "save the Post Office"

 

Last updated 8/26/2020 at 7:41am



When rural communities call, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) answers. Our postal service employees provide critical services to the communities of Central Washington and are often the only delivery service that will go the “final mile” to ensure that important mail – including prescriptions, bills, and checks – can be safely delivered to every house in America. In Washington state, we also rely on the USPS to securely deliver our ballots as recently as earlier this month during our state’s primary election.

In recent days, there has been a lot of misinformation about the USPS being amplified by news networks, social media platforms, and elected officials – including claims that USPS won’t be able to handle the increased volume of election mail.

It is true: the USPS is in financial distress. The self-funded independent agency relies on the sales of stamps, postage, and parcel deliveries, and mail volume has steadily decreased since the rise of the Internet. But perhaps the most important truth: USPS has the funds to remain solvent and operational through August 2021. USPS currently has $14 billion on hand in addition to access to a $10 billion loan from the passage of the CARES Act earlier this year, which I was proud to support.

Despite this, demands to “Save the Post Office,” hyperbolic estimates of insolvency, and false accusations of intentional voter suppression have inspired the Speaker of the House to act – but not in an effective way.

When Speaker Pelosi sent the House home for the August district work period, we were advised that we would likely be called back to Washington, D.C. to vote on a desperately-needed COVID-19 relief package to help the families and small businesses that continue to be affected by our country’s economic shutdown and added workplace regulations. Instead, the House of Representatives was called back to vote on a $25 billion bailout of USPS, the Delivering for America Act.

This legislation was crafted by House Democrats in response to a manufactured crisis with a specific target: the November election. The USPS has been facing financial distress for years, but they have assured the public that they are fully capable of handling increased volumes of election mail. Even if every single registered voter requested and submitted their ballot by mail, the number of mail pieces would not exceed a typical day of total mail volume for USPS.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was appointed by the USPS Board of Governors earlier this year, announced he would suspend changes in operations to assure the American people that the reforms he is making are not intended to disrupt the upcoming election. Still, the Speaker brought the Delivering for America Act before the House for a vote, which provides a blanket prohibition on the USPS from making any operational changes that were not in place on January 1, 2020. This includes – but is not limited to – operational changes to protect employees from COVID-19, leaving postal employees at risk.

Understandably, the American people are concerned about the potential dissolution of the Post Office. Congress created the U.S. Postal Service in 1792, making it one of the oldest and most recognizable pillars of our society. We have come to know USPS and our mail carriers across the country by their motto, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

We should continue to empower USPS to improve its operations — not throw money at a broken independent agency that is desperately in need of modernization and reform. Congress must work together to ensure the USPS remains solvent and functioning, so our postal employees and mail carriers can continue to deliver for our communities throughout this pandemic and into the future.

 

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