The top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, a panel with jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service, is demanding that the agency's inspector general conduct a "flash review" of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's recent policy changes that have dramatically slowed mail delivery across the nation and raised the specter of calculated election sabotage.
"These steps make no sense, and only fuel my fears that the postmaster general is intentionally infusing chaos and disarray into the Postal Service just weeks before a presidential election."
—Rep. Gerry Connolly
In a letter (pdf) sent Thursday to Postal Service IG Tammy Whitcomb, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) wrote that he and his colleagues in Congress are "disturbed by recent steps taken by Postmaster General (PMG) Louis DeJoy to restructure the Postal Service" with less than 90 days to go before the November elections.
"The timing of his proposals—amidst a global pandemic and just weeks before a contentious presidential election that will rely on the Postal Service to deliver unprecedented volumes of mail-in-ballots—constitutes a deliberate attempt to use the Postal Service to stifle democracy and influence an election," wrote Connolly, a co-sponsor of new legislation in the House aimed at reversing DeJoy's policy changes.
Connolly noted that DeJoy—a major Republican donor to President Donald Trump—has in recent weeks:
- Removed employee access to overtime, despite clear evidence of a workforce shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
- Told employees to leave late-arriving mail behind, changing years of Postal Service practice;
- Introduced a reorganization plan without providing any evidence or justification for it;
- Announced plans to request authority for a hiring freeze, again in the midst of a global pandemic that is prompting workforce shortages; and
- Announced plans to consolidate regions without clarity as to what problem these changes would solve.
"It remains unclear whether the postmaster general is complying with all statutory, regulatory, and administrative processes related to implementation of his drastic changes to nationwide operations and service delivery standards," Connolly wrote. "I believe he is not."
"Trump and his election saboteur aide Louis DeJoy must stop their demolition of the Postal Service."
—Susan Harley, Public Citizen
Given the potential impact the postmaster general's changes could have on upcoming elections, Connolly is asking that the USPS inspector general "expedite a rapid review of the statutory and regulatory compliance of Mr. DeJoy's recent actions."
"It is unconscionable that the postmaster general would take steps to intentionally reduce the hours of Postal Service employees at a time when it is clear that the workforce is the solution to labor shortages at the agency," Connolly wrote. "These steps make no sense, and only fuel my fears that the postmaster general is intentionally infusing chaos and disarray into the Postal Service just weeks before a presidential election in which the use of mail-in-balloting is anticipated to skyrocket. "
Today I am requesting a flash report from the USPS Inspector General to determine the legality of Postmaster General DeJoy's actions. More info:https://t.co/i5tFLoOs6X
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— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) August 13, 2020
Connolly's call comes as anecdotal evidence of the havoc DeJoy's changes are wreaking on day-to-day Postal Service operations abounds—from major package backlogs to veterans not receiving prescription medicine to reports of mail sorting equipment being removed from post offices around the country without explanation.
Postal workers and watchdog groups have warned that if they aren't quickly reversed, DeJoy's policies could threaten the timely delivery of mail-in ballots in November.
On Thursday, as Common Dreams reported, Trump openly admitted that he is blocking emergency Covid-19 funding for the Postal Service with the express purpose of hindering mail-in voting.
Susan Harley, managing director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division, warned in a statement Thursday that Trump and DeJoy's sabotage of the Postal Service amounts to a "coup attempt in the making."
"Trump and his election saboteur aide Louis DeJoy must stop their demolition of the Postal Service," said Harley. "Mail-in voting is an absolute necessity to ensure Americans can exercise their right to vote amid the worst pandemic in a century—which Trump has also made dramatically worse—just like everything else he touches."
"Trump's latest attempts to underfund and stifle the Postal Service not only puts Americans' access to vital medicines, products, and government payments at risk—it threatens our election system and our democracy," Harley added.