Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2022
On Saturday, August 22nd, the US House of Representatives voted on a new bill introduced, known as the Delivering for America Act. This legislation would prohibit the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from making changes to operations or levels of service from those that were in effect on January 1, 2020. Specifically, the USPS may not, during the period beginning on enactment of the bill and ending on the last day of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) public health emergency or January 1, 2021, whichever is later, implement or approve any change to the operations or the level of service that would impede prompt, reliable, and efficient services.
What is the controversy behind the Delivering for America Act?
The introduction of the bill, introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), was in response to changes made by Postmaster General Louise Dejoy to USPS. These changes included limiting post office hours and cutting over time hours for employees. Dejoy was selected as Postmaster General by the members of the USPS board of governors. All six members of the USPS board of governors were appointed by President Donald Trump. Dejoy defended these changes, emphasizing that they were necessary to combat financial losses incurred by USPS. Dejoy faced lawmakers on Friday, August 21, for the first time as head of the U.S. Postal Service. He strongly disputed allegations that he is making changes to the agency’s operations to help boost President Donald Trump’s reelection in November. He called such claims “outrageous.”
This allegation was brought because President Donald Trump has expressed his distaste for mail-in voting, stating that he thought the process would lead to fraudulent voting. President Trump has also expressed through Twitter that he believes Democrats desire mail-in voting due to lack of enthusiasm for Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. Despite this difference of opinion between the parties, the Postmaster General has reassured lawmakers that USPS is completely capable of securely handling the many future mail-in ballots for this year’s unprecedented election.
The changes in USPS and the legislative response have caused tension between Democrats and Republicans, along with the fact that the presidential election is forthcoming. A CNN poll has revealed that “among all registered voters, thirty-four percent say that they prefer to vote by mail in the presidential election.” While the poll also states that twenty-two percent of voters would prefer to vote early at a polling place, and just forty-three percent say they would prefer to vote in-person on Election Day. These results represent a ten-point increase over the share who voted by mail in 2016: twenty-four percent, according to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. The political divide over how voters want to cast their ballots is clear. Among the supporters of President Donald Trump, sixty-six percent say they prefer to vote in person. Of those voters supporting Democratic candidate Joe Biden, fifty-three percent prefer to vote by mail.
What would the Delivering for America Act do?
The Delivering for America Act would provide twenty-five billion dollars in new funding for the agency and would prohibit any operational changes enacted as of January 1, 2020 of this year. The bill has two hundred and twenty-two co-sponsors in the House, with only two co-sponsors being republican representatives. The prohibited operational changes specifically enumerated in the bill include: any change in the nature of postal services which will generally affect service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis, any revision of service standards, any closure or consolidation of any post office or reduction of facility hours, any prohibition on payment of overtime pay to Postal Service officers or employees. The bill also prohibits any change that would prevent the Postal Service from meeting its service standards or cause a decline in measurements of performance relative to those service standards and any change that would have the effect of delaying mail.
Republican leaders have publicized their dissatisfaction with the House’s focus on the Delivering for America Act. The minority whip Steve Scalise tweeted that he believed the House should be focused on helping “workers, families, schools, or small businesses […]” rather than a “postal service conspiracy”. Despite differing opinions on the bill, the Delivering for America Act passed through the House of Representatives and is making its way to the Senate.