Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) voted for a $25 billion package to support the United States Postal Service (USPS) during the crisis brought on by COVID. As millions more Americans are expected to cast their votes by mail this November because of health concerns about voting in person, constituents are justifiably concerned about possible changes and counterproductive cost-cutting measures the Trump administration could enact to slow down mail-in ballots or discourage people from voting.
“Even in the best of times, the Postal Service is an absolutely essential institution,” said Himes, “delivering prescriptions and Social Security payments and acting as a lifeline to rural communities. During the current pandemic, its value has only increased, as package delivery brings essentials to people who can’t leave home and mail-in voting will help to minimize voter exposure to coronavirus in crowded polling places.”
The package prevents the USPS from:
- Treating election mail as anything other than first-class mail
- Removing mail collection boxes or sorting machines
- Changing service standards
- Closing facilities or reducing hours
- Limiting overtime
- Enacting a hiring freeze
- Making other changes, or enacting other policies, that would delay the mail
Under the bill, these changes would be prevented until at least January 31, 2021. While Postmaster General Louis DeJoy recently reversed the administration’s position and indicated that there would be no changes to USPS service before the election, this bill would make those protections law, preventing last-minute changes.
“I visited a mail sorting center in Stamford this week to talk to postal workers and take a look around,” continued Himes. “After the visit, I have confidence that the service in our area will function as usual. The USPS delivered more than 800 million packages nationwide between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in 2019, so we know we have the capacity to handle the election mail as long as USPS isn’t hamstrung. That’s what this bill is about.”
In addition, Himes has had discussions with Democratic leadership in recent days about continued negotiations that have stalled on coronavirus aid package.
“This is not an area where we can throw up our hands and agree to disagree,” said Himes. “I know compromise can sometimes be a dirty word in politics, but the American people need both sides to be willing to make concessions to get expanded unemployment insurance and other support flowing again. If we don’t there could be dire economic ramifications.”
For more information or with questions, contact Patrick Malone at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org.