HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The establishment of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is one of the first directives listed in the Constitution, and the founders explicitly intended for it to be an apolitical agency that enabled fair and affordable commerce and communication between states. Over the years its role has been defined to include protections of privacy and speech, equal service regardless of address, and strict limits on rate increases to ensure full accessibility by all Americans. It’s an essential tool of democracy, not a for-profit business. Trump has been working to dismantle the USPS since 2018, when his administration proposed restructuring that would lead to privatization. The justification? A significant debt burden of $160 billion, most of which can be blamed on legislation introduced by Susan Collins. Collins’ 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the USPS to pre-pay for retirees’ healthcare benefits 75 years into the future. No other federal agency or private corporation has to do that. The burden of that pre-funding mandate accounts for a full 74% of the USPS debt.
A fully funded federal postal service is now more important than ever. In this pandemic, it is a life-saving medication and PPE delivery system, it facilitates vital distribution of stimulus and unemployment funds, and it allows people to register to vote and to vote absentee without risking their health. Despite this, Trump has mounted an all-out attack. In April he threatened to veto a coronavirus relief package if it included USPS funding, and later admitted that he’s blocking funding to sabotage mail-in voting. In June he installed Louis DeJoy – a Trump mega donor with millions in financial assets tied to USPS competitors – as the new postmaster general. DeJoy immediately carried out his own “Friday night massacre” by replacing all of the USPS’s top executives, and instituted shocking changes resulting in masses of mail being left undelivered, mail sorting equipment and mailboxes removed without explanation, and reports that some post offices will be shut down permanently. To highlight DeJoy’s voter suppressing intentions, his changes were implemented after the postal service warned 46 states (including Maine) that their voters could be disenfranchised by postal delays. While public pressure prompted DeJoy to announce this week that he would halt changes until after the election, we have yet to see evidence that sorting equipment and mailboxes have been replaced.
WHAT’S BEING DONE ABOUT IT?
- The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will question DeJoy in a hearing on Friday.
- Speaker Pelosi has called on House members to return to Washington on Saturday to vote on a bill that provides $25 billion in USPS funding and blocks some of DeJoy’s organizational changes. [Note: while Senator Collins is touting a Senate bill she co-sponsored which also provides $25 billion in USPS funding, she hasn’t shown any ability to get Mitch McConnell to bring her bill to the floor for a vote]
- The House Oversight Committee will question DeJoy in a hearing Aug. 24.
- The postal service inspector general is currently reviewing DeJoy’s policy changes and ethics conflicts, after an inquiry was requested by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
- More than 20 state attorneys general (including Maine’s) are preparing to sue the Trump administration.
- Sen. Angus King called on Congress to repeal Susan Collins’ Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the USPS to pre-pay for retirees’ healthcare benefits 75 years into the future and accounts for most of the USPS’s debt.
FIVE WAYS YOU CAN HELP
1. Request your absentee ballot TODAY, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Remember, you have many ways to vote safely. You can vote absentee by mail, absentee at your town office with early voting, or in person at your polling place. We’ll have a guide ready soon that explains all your options and answers all your questions. Stay tuned!
2. While Susan Collins is home in Maine, tell her how postal delays have affected you personally, and tell her that you know about her role in manufacturing the USPS’s current financial crisis. Tell her, too, that her own USPS funding plan isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if she can’t convince Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Augusta (207) 622-8414 | Bangor (207) 945-0417 | Biddeford (207) 283-1101 | Caribou (207) 493-7873 | Lewiston (207) 784-6969 | Portland (207) 780-3575
3. Tell Reps Pingree and Golden to support the House bill coming up for a vote on Saturday.
Pingree (1st District): Portland (207) 774-5019 | Waterville: (207) 873-5713
Golden (2nd District): Bangor (207) 249-7400 | Caribou (207) 492-6009 | Lewiston (207) 241-6767
4. Email the USPS Board of Governors and tell them how postal delays have affected you personally, demand that they remove Louis DeJoy as postmaster general, and reverse the changes that are interfering with the USPS’s ability to serve all Americans, especially as they exercise their voting rights.
Robert Duncan, Chairman: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Barger: email@example.com
Ron Bloom: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramon Martinez: email@example.com
Donald Moak: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Zollars: DirectorAccessMailbox@cigna.com
5. Host or attend a #SaveThePostOffice Saturday event on August 22. So far, we’re seeing events organized for Biddeford, Portland, Auburn, South Paris, and Bangor. You can also just show up at your local post office with a sign and your voice!
Washington, DC: (202) 225-6306
TTY: Use Maine Relay 711
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