New Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Friday he has no plans to restore mailboxes and other agency cuts made since he took over in June, sparking fresh questions over how the Postal Service will ensure timely delivery of an expected surge of mail-in ballots for the November election.
It was DeJoy's first time publicly answering questions since summer mail delays brought a public outcry. Testifying before a Senate committee, the ally of President Donald Trump said it was his "sacred duty" that ballots arrive on time. But he told senators he did not yet have a plan for handling a crush of election mail.
From the White House, Trump delivered fresh complaints over the mail-in ballots expected because of the coronavirus pandemic. As he did, the House pushed ahead with plans for a rare Saturday vote to block the postal cutbacks and funnel $25 billion to shore up operations.
DeJoy declared that the Postal Service "is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation's election mail securely and on-time".
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
He distanced himself from Trump's objections about widescale mail-in voting and said ensuring ballots arrive was his "No. 1 priority between now and Election Day".
The outcry over mail delays and warnings of political interference have put the Postal Service at the centre of the nation's tumultuous election year, with Americans of both parties rallying around one of the nation's oldest and more popular institutions.
The new postmaster general, a Trump donor who took the job at the start of summer to revamp the agency, is facing a backlash over changes since his arrival. Democrats warn his cost-cutting initiatives are causing an upheaval that threatens the election.
With mounting pressure, DeJoy promised this week to postpone any further changes until after the election, saying he wanted to avoid even the perception of interference. A number of blue mailboxes have been removed, back-of-shop sorting equipment has been shut down and overtime hours have been limited.
But DeJoy told senators he has no plans to restore the equipment, saying it's "not needed". And he stood by a new rule that limits late delivery trips, which several postal workers have said is a major cause of delivery delays. He vowed more changes are coming to postal operations after November.