Postmaster general is ‘suspending’ policies blamed for mail delays after receiving letter from Senate Democratic caucus

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced today that he will join a multistate coalition of attorneys general in a lawsuit to challenge Trump’s “attack” on the postal system.

According to a press release, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy failed to seek regulatory approval on policy changes that had a nationwide impact on mail delivery.

The release states that DeJoy “unlawfully and unilaterally implemented a series of revisions to the postal service’s protocols and procedures that threaten to undermine the timely delivery of millions of mail-in ballots across the country.”

The United States Postal Service has been a hot topic in recent weeks. With presidential elections looming, delays in mail service have prompted fears that mail-in ballots won’t arrive at their destinations in time.

Yesterday, California Senator Dianne Feinstein joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus in sending a letter calling on the postmaster general to answer questions about recent practices that have delayed mail delivery and may affect vote-by-mail ballots in the upcoming election.

“In the weeks since you began to implement these changes, we have seen a steep increase in constituent concerns about mail delays, including restricted mail movement, limitations on carriers’ abilities to timely deliver mail, and most concerning, risks to receipt of critical mail involving life-saving medication and ballots for the upcoming general election,” the Senators wrote. “The lack of transparency so far regarding the intent, scope, and responsibility for changes at the Postal Service is unacceptable.”

The USPS did not receive any money from March’s $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, prompting delays in mail.

DeJoy was appointed to the position of postmaster general in May of this year by President Donald Trump. Funding for USPS has been a bargaining chip used by Trump during recent deliberations over a second coronavirus relief bill.

On August 13, Trump said, “Now, if we make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting.”

Many took this statement as a threat to mail-in voting. In his press release, DeJoy announced an expansion of the current task force on election mail to “enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country.”

In response to the senators’ letter, DeJoy also announced that, “The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall.”

According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, changes to service have been extensive.

In a press release, Becerra described the following changes:

Infographic by Emma DiMaggio

To “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” DeJoy assured the following:

Infographic by Emma DiMaggio

DeJoy also agreed to appear before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee this Friday to answer questions about recent changes in service.

In response to DeJoy’s statement, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said that it merely wasn’t enough to just suspend operational changes.

“They need to be reversed. There should not be cuts to postal service, particularly during this pandemic,” Padilla said. “Postal workers deserve clarity from US Postal Service leadership on why so many operations changes occurred. And voters deserve to know that their ballots will not be delayed.”

Update: This story was updated with statements from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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