MISSION, Texas – On Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar and members of the Texas Association of Letter Carriers held a news conference in Laredo to denounce cost-cutting measures for the U.S. Postal Service.

Within a few hours, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he would not be implementing the cost-cutting measures, at least not before the presidential election in November.

DeJoy said he wanted to assure all Americans that:

  • Retail hours at Post Offices will not change. 
  • Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
  • No mail processing facilities will be closed.
  • Overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.

“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards,” DeJoy said.

“The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.”

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar

Cuellar said DeJoy was facing intense pressure to reverse the operational changes he wanted to introduce.

“They started getting pressure from everywhere, Democrats, Republicans, saying, hey, what the hell are you guys doing? Also, I think there were 20 states that wanted to sue the postal service,” Cuellar said. 

“The postal service is a very popular agency and it is so needed. Look at the Pew Research polling, 91 percent of the public supports the post office. A small business owner, a senior, a veteran, everybody relies on the post office, especially during a pandemic.”

Asked what the about-face from DeJoy means, Cuellar said: “The hours of the post office are not going to change, the mail processing equipment and blue mail boxes are not going to be removed. All mail processing facilities are going to remain open and the postal service is again going to allow overtime, as needed.”

Cuellar said the House of Representatives will still be in session on Saturday to consider legislation that would block the Postal Service from implementing the cost-cutting measures DeJoy was planning. 

“We are still moving forward. We have to,” Cuellar said. 

The Laredo Democrat noted that the HEROES Act contained $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service. However, the Senate has not passed the legislation or offered an alternative stimulus package to help in the fight against COVID-19. For this reason, Cuellar said, the Democratic leadership in the House plans to introduce standalone legislation just to help the Postal Service. He said it would include the $25 billion.

“On the $25 billion, we did not just come up with this amount. That was what the board of governor’s of the post office – all appointees of Trump – said they needed. It is what Trump’s appointees are saying they need. So, Saturday, we are still set to go vote on the $25 billion funding and on stopping them making the cost-cutting changes.”

Cuellar said he is glad DeJoy reversed course on the four key items: reducing retail hours, moving mail processing equipment, closing mail processing facilities, and eliminating overtime.

“Those are the four key points that we were concerned about. You heard from some of the postal workers today. Stopping overtime was creating unnecessary delays. And the president coming in and making political statements like, oh, mail-in voting is fraud. He is attacking the legitimacy of a democracy by not trusting the system.”

Cuellar said he would be interested in how Republicans vote on the Postal Service legislation.

“We are telling our Republican senators, hey, if you have a problem with a big bill (the HEROES Act), let’s do a very laser-focused bill that addresses the post office: $25 billion and a prohibition on the four changes,” Cuellar said.

“We are hoping it is a bipartisan vote. This should be an easy vote for everybody to make.”

Cuellar said it was ironic that President Trump has requested an absentee ballot so be can vote by mail, when he decries mail-in voting as prone to fraud.

“It should not have to be a choice between your health and your vote. We need the post office to be able to handle mail-in voting. The post office has been with us since the beginning of our democracy.”

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