Biden pledges support for U.S. Postal Service
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, has drawn a sharp line with President Donald Trump over support for the United States Postal Service.
In responses to a survey by the National Association of Postal Supervisors, Biden pledged to provide the USPS with “emergency relief” and to eliminate the onerous requirement that it prefund the costs of its retirees’ health care plans.
The former vice president also declared he wants to slow the speed of postal rate increases and protect six-days-a-week mail deliveries.
In his answers, Biden said that Trump, his Republican opponent in the Nov. 3 presidential election, “is attacking the U.S. Postal Service, one of our country’s most trusted institutions.”
Trump, who has opposed giving the USPS emergency COVID-19 relief funds, did not respond to the National Association of Postal Supervisors’ survey.
The organization disclosed Biden’s responses in the October issue of its monthly magazine, the Postal Supervisor.
The National Association of Postal Supervisors does not endorse candidates, unlike postal unions.
“A Biden-Harris administration will ensure the Postal Service has the support it needs to not only survive this [COVID-19] crisis, but emerge capable of serving the American people while charging affordable rates,” Biden said in his response to the association’s survey.
If elected, Biden said his administration will see that the USPS is “led by ethical experts who believe in the importance of a public postal service.”
That was an apparent slap at Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was installed in June by a board of governors composed of Trump appointees. According to recent news reports, DeJoy may have violated federal and state election laws by reimbursing employees of his North Carolina logistics company, New Breed Logistics, who donated to his favorite Republican candidates.
While the board of governors has given him a vote of confidence, there are still three vacancies on the board. Biden said he would fill those seats, if elected.
The Biden postal response indicates that the upcoming presidential election is one of the first in recent memory with a major divide between Democrats and Republicans on postal issues.
Almost from the onset of his administration, Trump has been sharply critical of the Postal Service. He has focused his criticism on discounted postal rates it has granted to some large mailers, including the online retail giant Amazon in particular.
The president reportedly demanded that former Postmaster General Megan Brennan boost Amazon’s postage rates dramatically, claiming the USPS is losing money on every Amazon package it delivers.
Biden told the National Association of Postal Supervisors that the Trump administration has refused to agree to “much-needed funding” for the USPS and is “calling for rate increases on customers, while pushing to eventually privatize the agency.”
Biden said his administration would “invest in clean postal infrastructure to modernize the postal fleet.” That is an apparent reference to helping the USPS buy its planned $5 billion fleet of new delivery vehicles.
Biden also pledged to support voting by mail, something that Trump has attacked repeatedly.
“We have to make it easier for everybody to be able to vote, especially during a national pandemic,” Biden said, noting that the president voted by mail in an August primary in Florida.
“If it’s good enough for Donald Trump, it’s good enough for every voter,” he said.
Mail volumes growing
DeJoy has declared that first-class and marketing mail volumes are growing after dipping sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an Oct. 5 video message to postal employees, he also said that election mail volumes are growing and that the USPS is easily able to handle that growth.
“Between now and election day, the volume of election mail will likely account for only 2 per cent of our total volume,” DeJoy said.
“So we have more than enough processing capacity to fulfill our important role in the nation’s electoral process,” he said, citing moving election mail as “our top priority over the next five weeks.”
“I have great confidence that we will perform extremely well in delivering the nation’s election mail,” he said.
DeJoy said he has authorized overtime as needed to move election mail, including extra deliveries of mail-in ballots to election officials on Nov. 3.
He also praised postal workers for continuing to work during the wildfires in the West and the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.
“There is a reason we’re the most trusted government institution and one of the most well liked of all organizations and businesses in the nation,” DeJoy said. “It’s because of your commitment to serving the public.”.
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