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Senators Demand Answers on USPS Delivery Services
Michigan Ag Connection - 08/06/2020

Despite reports of mail left sitting in processing facilities, USPS has refused to provide Congress with details on impacts to delivery and vote by mail during the pandemic

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Tom Carper (D-DE) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) are demanding answers from U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after he refused to answer whether reported changes restricting mail delivery came at his direction. Despite numerous reports from across the country of slow delivery, mail left sitting in facilities overnight and challenges delivering vote by mail ballots on time to election officials, DeJoy has refused to provide Congress with answers on actions he has taken that could undermine the Postal Service during a pandemic.

"Recent concerns raised by constituents and postal workers have brought to light questionable changes under your leadership now taking place in post offices and processing centers across the nation that may negatively impact mail delivery," wrote the Senators. "It is essential that the Postal Service not slow down mail or in any way compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail -- including significant numbers who will be relying on the Postal Service to exercise their right to vote."

Any changes to Postal Service operations must be carefully considered to ensure they do not limit service for Americans who rely on the mail for essentials, especially during a pandemic. Unacceptable changes to service, made without transparency or public input, could harm seniors, small businesses and people in rural areas who often have less access to other services and rely on the Postal Service for access to medications, emergency information, and home supplies. As increasing numbers of Americans plan to vote by mail in upcoming elections, the Postal Service must also ensure that any operational changes do not limit voter participation.

Klobuchar has been a consistent leader in the fight to ensure voters can cast their ballots safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, introduced on March 18, 2020 by Klobuchar and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and now with 37 additional cosponsors, would ensure Americans are still able to vote during the pandemic by expanding early in-person voting and voting by mail to all states as well as providing funding to train poll workers. Most of the provisions in her legislation have now been included in the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in May.

Klobuchar spoke on the floor of the Senate and asked for unanimous consent to pass her legislation in June. The unanimous consent failed due to objections from Senate Republicans, but Senator Roy Blunt, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, agreed on the need for additional funding to protect elections from coronavirus and held a Rules Committee hearing on election safety, following Klobuchar's push to hold such a hearing for months.

In July, Klobuchar and Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), introduced the National Emergency Student Vote Act to help college students nationwide exercise their right to vote in the 2020 elections, even as millions are displaced from their campuses due to the pandemic.

In July, Klobuchar, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and 29 Senators urged Vice President Mike Pence and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor to take immediate action to provide Personal Protective Equipment and sanitizing supplies for election and poll workers--and voters--ahead of the November 2020 election.

On July 6, Klobuchar joined Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and colleagues in urging the State Department to take action to ensure that Americans overseas can vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 11, Klobuchar led her colleagues in a letter to Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, and Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in calling for hearings on the threat coronavirus poses for elections.

In May, Klobuchar took to the Senate floor Klobuchar to ask for unanimous consent to lift restrictions that prevent states from accessing election funding designated to help them safely carry out elections during the pandemic, Republicans objected to Klobuchar's request.

In April, Klobuchar wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on the need to expand mail voting, early voting, and online voter registration. In March, Klobuchar and Wyden wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, highlighting the need "to protect the foundation of our democracy by ensuring that every eligible American can safely cast a ballot in the upcoming elections."

Before the Senate considered the third coronavirus relief package, Senators Coons and Klobuchar wrote a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to include funding to protect the 2020 elections. In April, Klobuchar, Coons, and Wyden published an op-ed in USA TODAY, highlighting the need for the fourth relief package to include money and direction for states to expand vote-by-mail and early voting.

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