Democratic leaders are urging the U.S. Postal Service postmaster general to reverse recent changes in the agency’s operations as mail delivery has suffered delays during the coronavirus pandemic and as millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail in the fall election.
In a letter Thursday to Postmaster Louis DeJoy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York note that they met with him on Wednesday and that he confirmed changes in operations since he was appointed to the job in May. These include reducing overtime, restricting extra mail trips, trying new sorting and delivery processes, and reducing processing equipment. They then point to reports of increased delays in mail delivery since then.
“We believe these changes, made during the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, now threaten the timely delivery of mail — including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers, and absentee ballots for voters — that is essential to millions of Americans,” the lawmakers wrote, describing USPS an “agency enshrined in the Constitution.”
DeJoy, a major political donor to President Donald Trump, implemented the recent changes in the name of cost-cutting. The lawmakers acknowledged the years-long financial troubles facing the postal service, but said making such changes in a pandemic was “unacceptable” as they called on him to “reverse” the measures.
A USPS spokesperson told HuffPost that the agency had received the lawmakers’ letter and “will be responding directly to them,” without providing further comment.
Voters are expected to vote by mail in record numbers in November as gatherings in public, including at polling places, threaten people’s health amid COVID-19′s continued spread.
DeJoy is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee at a Sept. 17 hearing focused on mail delays.
Trump has upped his years-long attacks on the postal service in recent weeks, claiming the agency is not “prepared” for a rise in mail-in voting, as well as spreading misinformation about how broad use of such ballots would lead to a “fraudulent” election. As has been widely reported by a range of news outlets and stressed by election officials in multiple states, no evidence has emerged of widespread fraud in the use of mail-in voting.
With the November election less than 100 days away, the U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with more than 4.8 million confirmed cases and over 159,000 dead from the virus.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.