NEW CASTLE, Del. – Yesterday,
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which has
jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service, discovered dismantled mail
processing machinery during an impromptu visit to the USPS Mail Processing and Distribution
"Right behind me is a sophisticated
barcode sorter; this is the sort of automated mail handling equipment that U.S.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has had removed," Sen. Coons said
in a video message released
today. "This was just removed
from this facility Sunday night and put outside, so it's been here for days in
the rain. I think it's important that the postmaster general has said he is
going to put the brakes on any further changes to service delivery standards to
the equipment or handling of mail, but this is physical proof that reversing
those changes is going to be expensive and difficult because this equipment
isn't serviceable again. So, I'm going to demand in the United States Senate
that we get a firm and written commitment from the postmaster general that he
will reverse the changes he's made to the delivery standards for our mail.
Two-thousand Delawareans have reached out to me to express their concerns about
late delivery of medications, late delivery of Social Security checks, and late
delivery of mail. The mail isn't a business; it's a treasured service and a
critical part of our nation, and with an election coming up soon, this fall, we
cannot afford to put at risk the delivery of every mail-in ballot."
The surprise visit by Coons to the New
Castle-based facility comes amid allegations that the postmaster general is
purposely sabotaging his own agency, causing delays in the delivery of letters
and packages throughout the country.
On Sunday, Aug. 16, Coons was alerted by
several USPS frontline workers exercising "the right of government
employees to petition or furnish information to Congress or a Member." The
employees there reported on a late-night operation to dismantle and remove
various types of letter-handling machinery at Quigley Boulevard. The USPS employees asked Coons to
come posthaste to see firsthand the destruction of government property there.
"We would like to invite you to visit our
facility to see for yourself what is happening here in Delaware," said a
USPS employee who asked to remain anonymous. "By coming to visit, you will
see how the Postal Service is being destroyed from the inside out. The major
problem is the amount of working mail processing machines that are being
dismantled and set out in the rain as trash."
The employee further wrote that "there
have also been delays in the mail since Postmaster General DeJoy has given the
order of 'no late trucks.' If the mail is not processed in enough time for
dispatch, then the mail is held until the next delivery day. This is causing
delays in the mail being delivered to our customers."
On Monday, Aug. 17, Sen. Coons, through
members of his staff, contacted leadership with the USPS Southern New Jersey
District to alert them about the invite and request a quick tour of the New
Castle distribution center. After stating they would check with the district
manager, a district liaison said that a next-day visit would not be possible.
"Thank you for sharing the
invitation," the liaison's email stated. "Unfortunately, this
invitation is outside of the official process. The district would be happy to
work with the Senator's office to schedule a visit at a later date. The request
will have to go through our official process."
"I am sure your request was shot down
because of the amount of mail delayed in the building," texted a postal
employee to a member of the senator's staff. "They don't have time to
prepare and clean it up with such short notice."
After these emails and text messages, a Senate
staffer asked the district liaison – since a full visit wasn't possible –
whether it was feasible for the senator "just to quickly peek on the
sorting room floor."
"The Senator's office is not on the
schedule of visitors today and will be unable to tour the facility,"
replied the district liaison. "If you provide some dates and times that
work for the Senator, I will share with the district leadership and get back to
you." The liaison clarified that USPS employees "cannot extend an
invitation to the senator's office to visit a postal facility. This has to be
arranged by management."
In a message received immediately after the
email exchange, a USPS employee told Senate staffers about an abrupt shift in
activity at the New Castle location.
"Management is attempting to clean up the
building," the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wrote.
"They have told our maintenance people to rush to remove the remaining
machines that they are taking apart. Telling them to tape up the floor where
the broken tiles are exposing possible asbestos."
Later that afternoon, Sen. Chris Coons joined
Sen. Tom Carper, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Attorney General Kathy Jennings
for a nationwide "Day of Action," speaking
outside of a post office in Wilmington to underscore the Postal Service as an
essential service to the people of the United States.
Citing widespread delays in mail deliveries,
President Trump's intent to use the Postal Service to suppress the vote, and
reports of deliberate disruptions in daily postal operations amid a global
pandemic, Jennings announced that Delaware and
other states are suing the Postal
Service to stop their practices.
During the press event, Blunt Rochester
reported that the House of Representatives would return to Washington to vote
on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney's Delivering for America
Act, which would prohibit USPS from implementing any changes to operations or
level of service it had in place on Jan. 1, 2020.
All of these events came after Coons and
Carper requested that USPS fix delays and avoid cost increases for election
mail. The Senators joined another letter that broadens
the call for oversight on the issue of interruptions amid changes made by the
recently appointed postmaster general.
To view the full video, visit https://youtu.be/LKJiT1wj3S4.
Elections and Campaign Finance , Appropriations Committee