Wyden: Congress must save Post Office, November election
Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden believes the Trump Administration is intentionally slowing the delivery of the mail, and he does not believe promises made recently by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will solve the problem.
In fact, Wyden believes President Donald Trump still wants to interfere with the delivery of vote-by-mail ballots during the Nov. 3 general election, and that Congress must act now to ensure its integrity. Many more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail in November because of the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to overwhelm the postal service without additional funding.
"There's no question about it," Wyden said during an interview with the Portland Tribune editorial board on Wednesday, Aug. 19. "I'm hearing too many stories about mail being slowed down or not delivered."
Wyden was interviewed by the board two days before DeJoy was scheduled to appear before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to answer questions about reports of widespread problems with the U.S. Postal Service.
Wyden also said he believes Congress will approve another COVID-19 recovery plan after it returns from recess. He expects that a handful of Republican senators who oppose the package approved by the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives have been hearing from constituents in crisis during their visits home.
"I think there are six to eight Republicans on the bubble who will be ready to act," Wyden said.
Among other things, DeJoy has admitted the USPS has been removing mailboxes from public streets and removing mail sorting machines from post offices across the country. DeJoy said such changes were being made to save money because of declining mail demand, but that they would be halted until after the election.
Two days after the Senate committee hearing, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a $25 billion USPS aid package. Wyden predicts it will pass in large part because rural Republican lawmakers are under pressure to save the mail service so many of their constituents depend on.
Oregon is one of five states that conducts all elections by mail. It has done so for years without problems. Wyden was the first U.S. senator in the country to be elected by mail.
Most other states only allow voters to request absentee ballots to vote by mail. All are expecting to receive many more request this year, and some have approved sending mail-in ballots to all voters. Some elections experts are predicting the results of the presidential election may not be known for months or weeks.
Oregon is one of 20 states that filed two lawsuits against the Trump Administration on Tuesday for undermining vote-by-mail ahead of the election.
The lawsuit alleges that changes made by the Postmaster General, which include eliminating overtime and prohibiting late deliveries, are unlawful, both because he did not follow the legal procedure established by Congress to make changes to the service and because the consequences of the changes violate federal laws by disenfranchising voters and harming people with disabilities, among other alleged violations.
"In the past couple of days, Trump has said we might have to redo the election. These kinds of statements take your breath away," Wyden said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.