Postmaster general says he will suspend USPS changes until after election

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Updated: 7:00 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Facing mounting bipartisan pressure and legal action, the postmaster general said he is halting planned operational changes at the United States Postal Service until after the General Election in November.

Louis DeJoy took over the role in June and said the changes are part of a larger cost-cutting effort that was in place before he arrived. But things like reduced overtime, removal of some sorting equipment and mail boxes sparked criticisms the changes were causing delays in mail being delivered and concerns that the policies would have a significant negative impact on the upcoming election, when an unprecedented number of ballots are expected to go through the postal service.

“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” DeJoy said in a statement.

He went on to say, “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.”

The issue has been put in the national spotlight, especially as President Donald Trump casts doubt over ballots cast by mail, something he says – without evidence – would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Several attorneys general, including Josh Kaul of Wisconsin, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday which was announced just moments after DeJoy said he would suspend operational changes.

Kaul said the postmaster general’s announcement was a step in the right direction.

“We are in the process of reviewing that and assessing how much that’s going to impact what’s happened,” Kaul told CBS 58 in an interview. “But it’s critical not only that changes be stopped going forward, but also changes in recent weeks be undone because people are already having delays with their mail so we’re working to reverse that as part of this.”

Democrats in Congress are set to return from August recess to take up a bill Saturday to address the issue, despite the postmaster general’s announcement.

“Words are cheap. Statute is strong,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D – Wisconsin) told reporters outside the main post office in Madison. “So we are still going to pass a bill to make sure those actions are stopped, figure out how much damage has already been done, give $25 billion to the postal service […] and a few other things to make sure people have the guarantee once again of their mail.”

DeJoy is set to testify before a Senate committee on Friday and a House committee next week to answer questions on the status of the USPS.

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Posted: 12:46 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2020

WASHINGTON (CBS 58/AP) -- The United States Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday, Aug. 18, he is suspending operational changes until after the 2020 election.

Democrats contended that the changes threatened mail-in voting, and some states planned to file lawsuits.

Postmaster General DeJoy said he would “suspend” his initiatives until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”

The crisis at the Postal Service has erupted as a major election year issue as DeJoy, a Trump ally who took control of the agency in June, has swiftly engineered cuts and operational changes that are disrupting mail delivery operations and raising alarms among workers.

Read the full statement from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy below: 

“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.”

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