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Courtney Co-Sponsors Bill to Protect U.S. Postal Service Amid COVID-19

August 18, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) became a co-sponsor of the Delivering for America Act (H.R. 8015), a bill that would prevent disruption of crucial U.S. Postal Service operations amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of this year’s elections in November. The Delivering for America Act was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) and is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives this Saturday.

“There’s a seemingly deliberate effort underway to slow down operations at the Post Office, and there’s bipartisan consensus growing that Congress has got to act,” said Congressman Courtney. “My office has heard directly from seniors, veterans, small business owners and others who have already been impacted by recent slowdowns. Medication isn’t getting to people on time; communication between our servicemembers overseas and their families is being drastically slowed down; businesses are having trouble moving products and receiving shipments; and thousands of people who are concerned about their health during COVID-19 are now uncertain if their votes will even be counted thanks to the recent mismanagement of the USPS. The rapid policy changes that have taken place under Postmaster General DeJoy have predictably led to this disaster—in the middle of a pandemic, when we can least afford it—and the Delivering for America Act will help right the ship. I’ll be in Washington this Saturday to help the House pass the bill.”

Several concerning developments have taken place at the U.S. Postal Service since Postmaster Louis DeJoy was appointed in June of this year. On July 15th, an internal Postal Service memo directed employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers, as well as significantly curtailing overtime, and undermining long-established organizational norms that have ensured the timely distribution of mail for decades. On August 7th, a memorandum detailing the restructuring of the Postal Service revealed the reassignment of 23 postal executives in an overhaul that analysts warn “deemphasizes decades’ worth of institutional postal knowledge” and “centralizes power around DeJoy.”  The restructure also proposed a hiring freeze, early retirements, unit realignments, and regional downscaling.

Last week, USPS broke from tradition when they announced that unless states—who are currently experiencing revenue shortfalls amid COVID-19—pay a higher postage rate, that this year’s election ballots will be treated as “bulk mail” as opposed to “first-class”. According to the USPS, bulk mail delivery takes three to 10 days, while first-class mail delivery takes two to five days.

The Delivering for America Act would maintain current service standards as well as the integrity of our elections and bedrock democratic principles. Specifically, the bill prohibits the USPS from making changes to operations or levels of service from those that were in effect on January 1, 2020. H.R. 8015 instructs that the USPS may not, during the period beginning on enactment of this bill and ending on the last day of the COVID-19 public health emergency, from implementing or approving any change to the operations or the level of service that would impede prompt, reliable, and efficient services, including:

  • Changes in the nature of services that will generally affect service on a nationwide basis;
  • Revisions of service standards;
  • Closures or consolidations of post offices or reduction of facility hours;
  • Prohibitions on payment of overtime pay to USPS officers or employees;
  • Changes that would prevent the USPS from meeting its service standards or that would reduce measurements of performance concerning those standards;
  • Changes that would have the effect of delaying mail, allowing non-delivery to a delivery route, or increasing the volume of undelivered mail.