Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Tuesday that the Delaware Department of Justice is filing suit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop changes she says would rob people of their right to vote by mail, and are already making people miss checks and life-saving medicine.
The suit, one of many being filed by state attorney generals across the country, was announced during a press conference with Delaware’s Congressional delegation — Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester — at the Wilmington Post Office.
Blunt Rochester said the delegation was joining members of the U.S. Congress across the country in a Day of Action to “send a clear message to President Trump and the postmaster general that the intentional sabotage of the United States Postal Service is not right.”
The lawmakers, all Democrats, said they had been deluged with complaints from constituents.
Reports across the country said post offices have been dismantling rapid mail sorting machines, taking post office boxes out of service and not paying overtime, all of which is delaying home mail delivery for days. While some have said the changes were part of cost-cutting measures, others have said it was an attempt to stop mail-in voting in November because President Donald Trump thinks it will favor Democrats.
As the 2 p.m. press conference began, Rochester pointed out that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was a major donor for Trump, had just responded in a press release to complaints.
DeJoy said in the release that the service was ready to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall and will deliver election mail on time and within its well-established service standards. He said a task force will be created to ensure that happens, and that as of Oct. 1, the service will “engage standby resources” to handle mail.
“The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day,” the press release said.
DeJoy said in the release that while he believes the Postal Service needs significant reforms, “work toward those reforms will commence after the election.” He also said retail hours at post offices will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain, no mail processing facilities will be closed and that overtime has and will continue to be approved.
“We’ve got to make sure they don’t go backwards,” Blunt Rochester said.
Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers union attended press conference. Postal workers have reached out to the state’s U.S. delegation, they said.
Blunt Rochester said making sure the postal service works like it should is not a partisan issue.
“Democrats, Republicans, Independents all agree that we need the postal service,” she said.
One Delaware Republican says it’s a matter of common sense to have the postal service working as it should. He, too, has received complaints.
“It’s really adversely affected many people,” said State Sen. Anthony Delcollo, R-Elsmere. “There needs to be an immediate and swift correction to this problem. This to me is a taxpayer-funded service provided by the federal government, and the taxpayers are owed that service.”
Jennings said it was no coincidence that DeJoy issued that press release just as attorneys general across the country were getting ready to sue him and the U.S. House of Representatives was returning to session Saturday to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney’s “Delivering for America Act.” That act would prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on Jan. 1, 2020.
“We are not going to let our foot off the gas,” Blunt Rochester said. “We’ve got to make sure that we don’t go backwards.”
Jennings supported the vote-by-mail law passed by the Delaware legislature and signed into law this year.
“It should not be undermined by somebody cost cutting in the White House and in D.C.,” Jennings said.
Jennings said the Delaware Department of Justice lawsuit will argue that the U.S. Postal Service is in violation of its statutory duties and infringing on fundamental constitutionally guaranteed rights.
“People have died for that right,” she said.
Carper said that the U.S. Postal Service was making decisions without seeking the advice or permission of lawmakers. He said service officials even had refused to meet with a federal regulator who oversees the agency.
DeJoy wasn’t only a donor to Trump’s campaign, he said. DeJoy also was the fundraiser for the Republican National Convention that was to have taken place in Charlotte, North Carolina.