Following nationwide backlash sparked by fears of election interference, the USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that proposed and ongoing cost-cutting measures will be put on hold until after the November election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
“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,” DeJoy, a Trump campaign superdonor who was appointed to the position in May, said in a statement.
Some of the initiatives — which include ending overtime pay for mail carriers, reducing post office retail hours and removing postal boxes — have already begun in locations around the country, leading to concern that the upcoming election may be compromised as more voters utilize mail-in voting due to the pandemic. Donald Trump has also come under fire for admitting that he is blocking additional funding for the postal service specifically to make it harder to vote. It’s not immediately clear whether DeJoy’s announced suspensions will reverse course on the initiatives that have already rolled out.
In his statement, DeJoy said he wanted to “assure all Americans” that Post Office retail hours wouldn’t change, mail processing equipment and the blue postal boxes would not be removed, overtime would be approved “as needed” and that none of the USPS’ mail processing facilities would be shut down.
“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,” DeJoy said. “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.”
DeJoy is also expected to testify in the Senate on Friday and before a House committee next Monday during emergency hearings Democrats have scheduled to investigate accusations that service cuts are intended to interfere with the upcoming election. Among the cuts are the removal of standalone mail boxes and mail sorting machines, which have already caused delays to mail deliveries, according to USPS workers.