Courtney Helps Pass the Delivering for America Act to Protect U.S. Postal Service Amid COVID-19
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the Delivering for America Act (H.R. 8015), a bill that would prevent further disruption of crucial U.S. Postal Service operations amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of this year’s elections in November, and that would roll disruptive operational changes already implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over the past few months. Rep. Courtney is a co-sponsor of the Delivering for America Act, which passed the House this evening with bipartisan support by a margin of 257-150.
“My office’s phones and email have blown up with hundreds of constituents who have already been impacted by recent slowdowns at USPS,” said Congressman Courtney. “Earlier this week, in Willimantic, we heard directly from U.S. Navy veterans, representatives from our small business community, and from former USPS officials—mail is getting 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 worried that their votes won’t 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. The House came back to Washington today to pass this bill, and the Senate is once again left in the position of playing catch-up. They need to get back to Washington and pass this bill so that Americans can count on the USPS when they need it most.”
The Delivering for America Act would maintain current service standards at USPS, and would help maintain the integrity of our elections. 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 with 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.
The bill also requires that election mail, including ballots, be treated as First-Class mail to ensure timely delivery, and prohibits the removal of mailboxes or sorting machines. Lastly, it provides $25 billion in emergency funding as requested by President Trump’s appointees on the Postal Board of Governors, and passed three months ago as part of the Heroes Act.
Earlier this week, Rep. Courtney hosted a gathering of eastern Connecticut veterans, small business representatives, retired U.S. Postal Service officials and others to highlight the need to protect the USPS and pass the Delivering for America Act. Courtney was joined for the event outside the U.S. Post Office in Willimantic by Bonnie Page, a U.S. Navy veteran, Vincent Mase (Director of Retirees, Connecticut Association of Letter Carriers), Diane Nadeau (Executive Director, Windham Chamber of Commerce), and Peter Galligan (retired USPS Postmaster).
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.