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Postmaster general halts changes blamed for delays until after election

 Washington — The postmaster general announced Tuesday he will be halting the operational changes put in place to cut costs at the embattled U.S Postal Service until after the November election after he came growing under pressure to reverse the shifts due to mail delays.

Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor who assumed the role of postmaster general in June, said in a statement his initiatives would be suspended “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.””The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” he said. “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. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day.”

DeJoy also announced he is expanding the Postal Service’s leadership task force on election mail “to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country.”

The postmaster general said retail hours at post offices will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will not be moved, no mail processing facilities will close and overtime will be approved as needed.

In the weeks after taking the helm of the Postal Service, DeJoy imposed a series of changes designed to save the agency money, including curbing overtime and prohibiting workers from making extra trips for late-arriving mail. But the operational shifts have led to a delay in mail delivery and backlogs.

Last week, the Postal Service confirmed it mailed letters to 46 states warning mail-in ballots may not be received in time to be counted, sparking criticism as states have expanded vote-by-mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Concerned that millions of Americans could be disenfranchised due to late-arriving ballots and that prescriptions and bills are not being delivered on time, lawmakers in both chambers of Congress summoned DeJoy and Robert Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, to Capitol Hill.

DeJoy is set to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, and he and Duncan agreed to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee for a hearing Monday.

The postmaster general’s announcement that he will be putting his operational initiatives on hold come days before the House was scheduled to return to Washington to take up legislation that prohibits the Postal Service from making any changes to its operations or levels of service until the end of the pandemic.


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