Tester Slams DeJoy After Hearing: ‘dependable mail delivery isn’t just another election year issue’

Senator calls for transparency, urges Postmaster General to reverse harmful changes at USPS

U.S Senator Jon Tester took U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to task today after DeJoy failed to provide any transparency on the basis for recent changes at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and refused to heed calls to reinstate critical mail processing machines that have been removed from mail facilities recently, including in Great Falls, Missoula, and Billings.

At a Senate committee hearing, DeJoy refused to make publically available the information he used to determine where and why services would be cut, and said bringing back mail processing machines is “not needed” despite an upcoming election that will be conducted largely by mail.

“Postmaster DeJoy today failed to provide an explanation to Montanans about why he has disrupted mail service across the country, even as he committed to implementing his harmful policy changes after the election,” Tester said. “For rural America, dependable mail delivery isn’t just another election year issue, and it’s unacceptable that DeJoy is hell bent on ensuring that Montanans—who rely on USPS for everything from receiving prescription medication to paying their bills—will be facing challenges again starting November 4th. DeJoy needs to provide Montanans with answers about what data he’s basing his decisions on and then come up with a plan to do more than cut the legs out from under folks in rural communities.”

DeJoy’s testimony came amid concerns that his actions at USPS are intended to cripple the agency and slow down mail delivery for millions of Americans. DeJoy also announced that USPS will again automatically consider election mail to be First Class mail, after Tester pushed back last week against the decision not to prioritize election mail. Tester and a group of colleagues had demanded DeJoy reverse the decision in a letter, writing that agency’s decision 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.

Tester continued, “I’m glad Postmaster DeJoy listened to my call to consider election mail First Class mail, but he’s still got a lot to explain to Montanans.”

Tester has led the charge to hold DeJoy accountable after USPS undertook reorganization actions that threaten to undermine the agency. Tester recently announced legislation that would prevent USPS from removing any further mail collection boxes, force the agency to reinstate the boxes that were removed, and require DeJoy to submit a report to Congress explaining why collection boxes were removed in the first place.

Additionally, 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.

Tester has also urged DeJoy to correct operational changes that are needlessly delaying veterans’ access to prescriptions and pushed back on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) following reports that it was scaling back its relationship with USPS, urging VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to address any concerns with the status of prescription deliveries for veterans—especially in rural states like Montana.

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.