Updated Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Postmaster general says he's suspending USPS changes until after election

Louis DeJoy wearing a face mask that says "US Postal Service"
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in the Capitol on Aug. 5. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement on Tuesday that he would halt operational changes and cost-cutting to the U.S. Postal Service until after the 2020 election to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."

Why it matters: Widespread delays and backlogs had prompted allegations from Democratic lawmakers that DeJoy and President Trump were attempting to undermine the Postal Service ahead of an election that will see a record number of mail-in ballots.

  • The House was poised to return to session on Saturday to pass USPS-related legislation, and DeJoy had been called to testify before both the House and Senate.
  • President Trump has suggested that the USPS won't be able to handle "universal" mail-in ballots, which he has baselessly claimed will lead to a "rigged" election, without extra funding.

Between the lines: The USPS alerted 46 states and Washington, D.C. at the end of July that it cannot ensure ballots sent by mail in the general election will arrive in time to be counted. Dejoy's statement does not address what changes the service has made since the letters were sent.

What he's saying: "I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election."

  • "In the meantime, 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 added: "I want to assure all Americans of the following:

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

The bottom line: "The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall," DeJoy wrote.

The other side: “Postmaster General DeJoy’s announcement of what may be a temporary pause in operational changes delaying the mail is a necessary but insufficient first step in ending the President’s election sabotage campaign," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

  • "This pause only halts a limited number of the Postmaster’s changes, does not reverse damage already done, and alone is not enough to ensure voters will not be disenfranchised by the President this fall."
  • “The House will be moving ahead with our vote this Saturday on Chairwoman Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’ which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020 and provides $25 billion in critical funding to support the Postal Service."
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