CORONAVIRUSIn The SpotlightNewsletter Highlights

by Leslie Kamil, OTR/L, MS, JD

Common Dreams explains that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been hit hard by the decline in mail volume resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, and the agency remains hindered by a congressional mandate requiring it to fund its retirees’ health benefits through the year 2056.

The Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, warned lawmakers that USPS could collapse within the next several months if Congress doesn’t quickly provide funding. The Postmaster General estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss by more than $22 billion dollars over the next eighteen months, and by over $54 billion dollars over the longer term, threatening our ability to operate.  In addition, USPS employs approximately 600,000 people who would be out of a job if the service were to shut down. USPS has gone without federal funding since 2006, subsisting instead on revenue from postage stamps and other products. 

The USPS is required to deliver all mail and to all postal addresses, at a flat rate.  It provides important services to rural communities, people who live in poverty, the elderly, and small businesses. A large group of people still count on mail delivery of medications and bill pay services because they live in towns and areas too small to support pharmacies and Internet services. If affordable mail becomes obsolete, this may contribute to the disenfranchisement of rural and indigenous communities. Many post offices even provide passport services and a place to pick up federal forms.

The Trump administration is using the coronavirus crisis to privatize USPS. In fact, Trump threatened to veto the CARES Act—which Congress passed last month—if it included direct relief for the Postal Service. Lawmakers and advocates are demanding that Congress include Postal Service funding in the next coronavirus stimulus package. To date, the postal service has been offered a choice between a $10 billion loan or nothing.

The one bright spot in these articles is that USPS in a statement reiterated its longstanding policy of delivering absentee and mail-in ballots even if they lack adequate postage. “It is the Postal Service’s policy not to delay the delivery of completed absentee or vote-by-mail ballots even if no postage has been affixed or if the postage is insufficient,” the agency said.  “In cases where a ballot enters the mail stream without the proper amount of postage,” the USPS said, “the Postal Service will collect postage from the appropriate Board of Elections.”

MI Resistance is urging people to call their GOP Representatives from Michigan and ask them to include adequate funding for the US Postal Service in the next stimulus package. They should also support a bipartisan package that can resist the threat of President Trump’s threatened veto of USPS support.

  • Jack Bergman (1st district) (R) (202) 225-4735         
  • Fred Upton (6th district) (R) (202) 225-3761
  • Bill Huizenga (2nd district) (R) (202) 225-4401          
  • Tim Walberg (7th district) (R) (202) 225-6276
  • Justin Amash (3rd district) (I) (202) 225-3831            
  • Paul Mitchell (10th district) (R) (202) 225-2106
  • John Moolenaar (4th district) (R) (202) 225-3561

Script for Calling Representatives:

Hi, I’m calling Representative_____to ask him to include adequate funding for the USPS in any COVID-19 stimulus package and to develop a package that can resist President Trump’s threatened veto of that bill. The Post Office is needed as never before as it keeps rural America connected to the rest of the country, provides reasonable rates and delivers to places that private shippers will not. The mail may also provide a safe and efficient way to conduct elections during the current epidemic. Please make this a priority as I understand funds for the Postal Service may run out by June 1st. Thank you.

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