WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, questioned the inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service about mail delays and treatment of periodical class mail.
The exchange between Sen. Coons and Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb took place during a hearing on the budget request for the USPS Office of Inspector General and USPS-related service issues.
Sen. Coons, during his opening remarks, said: "Mail delays have been one of the top issues that have caused Delawareans to call me in my office – to email, to text, to write. And often those letters are delayed in getting to my office. I'm from a small state of about 900,000 people, I've gotten 3,500 messages in the last year – 3,500 messages in the last year complaining about delays in postal delivery. I have gotten complaints from veterans who weren't getting their medications in the mail. I've gotten complaints from small businesses that weren't getting payment checks into them or weren't able to get services out. I've gotten complaints from just families who didn't get birthday cards from grandma to their grandchild, or notices about things that they needed to get to on time."
During the hearing, Sen. Coons spoke about the concerns with the treatment of periodical class mail: "One particular complaint I just got last weekend was from the Cape Gazette, a local newspaper in Sussex County, Delaware, that delivers by mail their copies of their regular periodical. And they've noticed over the last year, just dramatic delays in handling, and they've gotten complaints. They've gone and visited different postal handling facilities, and they've been struck at the extent to which, because it is technically second-class mail, although newspapers have been a critical part of our country since its founding, they're just not getting the same attention."
The Postal Service continues to struggle with on-time delivery across all mail types. Since July 2020, Sen. Coons has received more than 3,500 messages from constituents on mail delays. Of that, 350-plus messages have been in 2021. During a recent interview at the Cape Gazette, the senator heard about ongoing delivery issues with periodical mail. The Lewes-based newspaper stated they receive up to 45 complaints a week about USPS-related delivery issues.