New Tester Legislation Would Prevent, Reverse Removal of Mail Collection Boxes
POST Act would restore boxes already removed, require DeJoy to explain reasoning behind removals
After the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) removed potentially dozens of mail collection boxes across Montana without warning or explanation, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced his Post Office Security and Transparency (POST) Act to prevent the agency from removing any further boxes and requiring it to reinstate the boxes that were removed. Tester’s bill would also force U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to explain to Congress why the collection boxes were removed in the first place.
Last week, Tester blew the whistle on the collection box removals in Missoula and Bozeman, as well as planned removals in Billings and Lewistown. He has called on the agency to explain itself, and is awaiting answers about the exact locations of all removed boxes, why the boxes were removed, and if they were relocated to improve accessibility.
“All Montanans rely on timely mail service, especially veterans and folks living in rural communities,” Tester said. “This legislation will force Postmaster DeJoy to reverse his harmful decision to remove mail collection boxes from communities across our state and help us get to the bottom of why the agency launched this scheme in the first place. I am going to keep holding DeJoy accountable to Montana, so folks can continue relying on the USPS for critical mail services like paying bills and voting in upcoming elections.”
Tester’s bill places a 180-day freeze on USPS removal of mail collection boxes and requires any boxes that have been removed since June 15, 2020 to be restored. The bill also requires USPS to submit a report to Congress on box removal and prohibits USPS from removing additional collection boxes until the report is complete.
The report must include:
• Metrics used to make decisions on collection box removal.
• Methods of public notice for removals.
• Analysis of demographics most likely to use collection boxes.
• Location information of where new boxes were placed, if at all, to improve accessibility.
Tester’s bill is in response to recent actions at USPS that threaten to undermine the agency and concerns that several changes DeJoy has instituted at USPS are intended to cripple the agency and slow down mail delivery for millions of Americans. On Monday, Tester called on DeJoy to appear before Congress to answer for the changes, and last Thursday Tester blew the whistle on USPS for removing dozens of mail collection boxes from towns across Montana, leading USPS to pause its removal of collection boxes nationwide until after the election.
Additionally, DeJoy recently reorganized top leadership at USPS and has reportedly undertaken other policy changes that will lead to slower and less reliable mail delivery, including eliminating extra mail transportation trips, slashing overtime, and reducing critical mail sorting equipment at mail processing plants.
Tester wrote two letters to DeJoy last week urging him to correct operational changes that are needlessly delaying veterans’ access to prescriptions and to reverse the agency’s decision to not automatically consider election mail First Class mail, which would increase the cost of elections for already budget strapped states and disenfranchise voters by increasing concerns they would not receive their ballot by election day or by causing them to be returned after the deadline.
He also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $25 billion in emergency assistance to help the agency recoup pandemic related losses and other operational expenses, and has pushed Senate leadership to make significant emergency investments in the USPS a part of any new coronavirus aid package, as well as to provide support and protective equipment for the agency’s employees.
Text of Tester’s legislation can be found HERE.