Texas GOP leaders react to USPS suspending cuts after elections

Miya Shay Image
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Head of USPS now says there will be NO cuts in service
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Head of the post office now says there will be NO cuts in service before election.

Under fire from Congressional Democrats, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Tuesday he will suspend several cost-cutting initiatives in an effort "to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, until after the election is concluded."

"I want to assure all Americans of the following:

  1. Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
  2. Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
  3. No mail processing facilities will be closed.
  4. And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed."

The news was welcomed by Houston-area Republicans, who saw the post office controversy as taking attention away from election efforts.

"What the administration was trying to do was to sort it out," said State Sen. Paul Bettencourt. "I think they're making a wise decision to not do anything here, out and all, and maintain customer service, because it's being used as a political whipping boy at this time."

DeJoy was already slated to appear Friday before the Senate to testify on mail delivery delays and service changes that lawmakers and others warned could imperil the November election.

In the Houston area today, three Democratic members of Congress held separate news conferences to highlight their concerns that the post office was being attacked leading up to the November election.

SEE ALSO: Any USPS cuts will wait until after the election, postmaster general says

"The postal service is not a partisan organization," Rep. Al Green said. "The mail is not an organization that delivers to Democrats or Republicans, but it delivers to all people."

"I almost died a few days ago because I couldn't get critical medicine," said Revlon Bell, a veteran who spoke at Rep. Green's news conference.

Across town, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee held another news conference. At that event, Katy Jewett, who has stage 4 breast cancer, said she had to drive to Fort Worth and back recently because the medicine keeping her alive was delayed by the changes in the postal system.

"When faced with the potential to miss doses or make an eight-hour drive that keeps me alive, of course I made the drive," she said. "But, not everyone can drive eight-hours to get the drugs, not everyone can take the bus, or hire a courier."

Funding for the USPS suddenly became a major campaign issue, with Democrats accusing President Donald Trump of using the postal service to sabotage the election. It's a claim the president denies, instead, and without proof, linking mail-in voting to widespread fraud.

SEE ALSO: Trump admits he's blocking additional postal service funding to stop mail-in ballots

"You have to get voting right," he said Tuesday. "You can't have millions and millions of ballots sent all over the place, sent to people who are dead, sent to dogs, cats. This is a serious situation, this isn't games. I just want to get it right. Win lose or draw, I think we will win, but win lose or draw, we have to get it right."

The controversy started heating up after a July 10 Trump Administration memo called for restructuring and eliminating overtime to save money. The change was proposed by DeJoy, who is also a Trump campaign donor.

The agency has been bleeding money for years, but critics believe the real motivation for the cuts is to slow down an expected surge in absentee ballots in the November election.

"The post office, by slowing down the mail, is hurting millions of Americans, millions of New Yorkers, and it's worse during a COVID crisis," U.S. Sen Chuck Schumer said. "To slow down the mail at any time is disgraceful. To slow it down during COVID is despicable and hurts people's lives."

President Trump now insists he wants to save the U.S. Post Office, and the Trump Administration calls the lawsuit being filed by the attorneys general of 10 states politically motivated.

Before DeJoy's decision, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, pleaded with Trump to postpone any needed changes to the USPS until after Election Day. GOP Sen. Rob Portman and other Republicans in the swing state's congressional delegation urged DeJoy to "ensure timely and accurate delivery of election-related materials."

Trump made clear last week that he was blocking $25 billion emergency aid to the postal service, acknowledging he wanted to curtail election mail operations, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election money to the states to help process an expected surge of mail-in ballots.

Congress is not in session, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back to Washington over the crisis at the postal service, setting up a political showdown amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency ahead of the election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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