Rep. Frank Pallone calls for Trump administration to end 'sabotage' of U.S. Postal Service
The postmaster general's plan to restructure the U.S. Postal Service three months before the election amounts to a "sabotage" that is an attack on democracy, Rep. Frank Pallone said Tuesday.
The Democratic congressman called on President Donald Trump's administration to end an overhaul that has put in jeopardy timely deliveries of prescription medicine, Social Security checks and, perhaps, mail-in ballots.
"It’s clear the Trump administration’s so-called restructuring efforts are slowing mail delivery, putting the health of millions of Americans at risk and raising the likelihood that millions of voters could be disenfranchised this November,” Pallone said. “This reckless game must end."
Pallone made his comments at the Long Branch Post Office, joining a bipartisan group of Jersey Shore lawmakers who have taken Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to task for delivery delays.
The Postal Service's operations have come under heightened scrutiny as New Jersey and other states have announced plans to expand vote-by-mail ballots in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Adding to the fire have been reports of postal workers removing blue collection boxes and electronic sorting equipment.
Pallone had company. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said this week he had sent a letter to DeJoy on July 24 alerting him to complains from constituents in 11 towns who weren't getting mail delivered on time. And Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., said over the weekend that he, too, had heard from constituents frustrated by delivery delays.
"While the Trump administration actively undermines our Postal Service, I'm hearing from seniors and veterans in our community waiting far too long for the prescription drugs and assistance checks they need," Kim said in a tweet. "Attacks on our mail system are dangerous, unacceptable, and wrong."
While Pallone spoke Tuesday, the issue continued to boil.
DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump's campaign, became postmaster general in June.
He issued a statement Tuesday saying he took the position to restructure the agency so that it would be sustainable in the long term.
He pledged, however, to freeze his restructuring plan until after election day and reassured Americans that the Postal Service would be equipped to handle mail-in voting.
"The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day," he said. "The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty."
Pressure, however, has continued to build:
- New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a tweet Tuesday that he welcomed DeJoy's pledge, but added the state would protect New Jerseyans' right to vote. He threatened to file a lawsuit later this week.
- The House is scheduled to vote on a bill Saturday that would prohibit the Postal Service from making changes to its operations that were in place on Jan. 1.
- DeJoy is expected to testify before Congress on Monday.
Pallone noted the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a stimulus bill that includes $25 billion to help the postal workers during the pandemic. That bill is stalled in the Senate.
Palllone was joined by state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, and Assembly members Joann Downey, D-Freehold Township, and Eric Houghtaling, D-Neptune, who said constituents have reached out to them about not receiving bills, medications or other documents.
But they also said they were worried that a slowdown in mail service could disenfranchise voters.
"The USPS is responsible for connecting the people of this nation," Houghtaling said. "They need to be able to do their job properly and efficiently without interference from the Trump administration."