Maine political leaders weigh in on postal service

USPS changes
USPS changes(WBAY)
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI)- As we get closer to the presidential election, the volume of mail-in voting is expected to be the biggest it’s ever been and that has brought concern about potential postal service delays.

Tuesday, the U.S. Postmaster General announced the service will suspend postal service changes until after the election.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey announced Tuesday he’s joining other states in a lawsuit aimed at stopping sweeping changes at the postal service.

On Friday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will appear before the Senate following congressional uproar over mail delivery disruptions.

Lawmakers and others have been concerned the changes could harm the election.

We caught up with Senator Susan Collins who said she’s hopeful funding will help the postal service.

“I’m hopeful that we can get funding approved for the postal service to make sure there is no delay and that the fast sorting machines stay in place and are blocked from being removed, and I would support those steps,” she says.

Senate candidate Sara Gideon held a news conference with Maine postal workers Tuesday morning.

She’s calling on the Senate to take up legislation to support post offices.

The U.S. Postal Service recently sent out a letter to Maine and most other states saying it can’t guarantee all absentee ballots will make it in time.

“Creates a great deal of confusion and worry for people and really threatens them in a way that they feel either, that their vote won’t be counted or that they need to put themselves at risk during the pandemic,” she says.

Senator Angus King says he’s glad the postal service will reverse changes, but he says he’ll withhold any celebration until he hears from constituents that they are being reversed in practice, not just in word.

Here is his full statement:

After weeks of pressure and concern expressed to the administration and Senate committees, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) shared the following statement after United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy publicly claimed he would suspend postal service changes until after the 2020 election:

“For the sake of the USPS and the American public, I’m glad that these harmful and wrong-headed policies will be paused – but I’m not yet ready to call the matter closed. I’ve heard directly from Maine people – including postal workers and customers – about the harm caused by these misguided directives, which have slowed the mail and threatened the integrity of the upcoming election. While pleased by today’s announcement, I’ll withhold any celebration until I hear from my constituents that they are being reversed in practice, not just in word, and that service has been restored. In the meantime, Mr. DeJoy should not escape scrutiny as to the motivation for his actions, and I will be watching his Congressional testimony in the days ahead closely.”

Senator King has been a vocal supporter of the USPS’s critical role in American society, which has only grown in importance during the coronavirus pandemic as prescriptions and other needed mail services have grown more prevalent. Yesterday, he sent a letter to the Postmaster General, demanding he answer for the harmful changes happening at the USPS in testimony before Congress. Earlier this month, he sent a letter to Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, highlighting concerns brought to him by Maine constituents about the new USPS policies. Last month, he cosponsored a resolution emphasizing the importance of the USPS and urging increased funding in the next coronavirus relief package to help USPS offset losses incurred due to the pandemic. In May, Senator King wrote an op-ed for Maine publications outlining the economic, health, and cultural impact of the United States Postal Service. In April, he urged the Administration to release up to $10 billion in loans to the USPS– as authorized by Congress through the CARES ACT – in order to ensure the service can continue to operate during the coronavirus and in the future.

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