The future of the U.S. Postal Service is up in the air, as President Donald Trump continues to starve the institution of financial assistance. With much of the country shut down, whole industries facing collapse, and individuals and communities struggling financially, Congress has passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to roll out loans to small businesses; and financial assistance to Americans, hospitals, and state and local governments.
But what’s missing from those receiving a federal bailout is the U.S. Postal Service, as Trump refuses to help the agency in what could become a massive blow to voting rights come November. Though Trump signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, which included a $10 billion loan for USPS, the Treasury Department has yet to approve it. The loan would allow the agency to continue funding its operations and payroll through at least March 2021.
Campaign and Elections
As the battle against the new coronavirus rages through April and beyond, a looming question for public officials and political practitioners is what happens to the remaining primaries and what’s the impact on November’s general election?
Primaries, it’s been demonstrated, can be rescheduled. But the idea of a general election delay? Unthinkable for the vast majority of political professionals and constitutional scholars.
Postal workers – alongside doctors, nurses, truck drivers and others – are among the nation’s “essential” personnel who continue to show up for work amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hillsdale Postman Brent Brown has a routine that now includes wiping down surfaces holding the mail he’s about to deliver.
“People are relying on the postal system to keep the economy going and getting vital goods to their homes,” comments Jan Simpson, CUPW National President. “They need to know whether their mail is safe. It’s critical that we do all we can, and we will stay vigilant as the situation develops each day.” CUPW asks that customers wash and disinfect mailboxes, handrails and door handles daily if possible. Please allow adequate space for social distancing with postal workers on delivery, respect the posted social distancing protocols in post offices, and please don’t go to the post office if feeling ill.
Today, the Postal Service is just as essential: It delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas. Working with other delivery services like UPS, the agency supports $1.7 trillion in sales and 7.3 million private sector workers year, and this year will prove essential to delivering the 2020 Census to citizens as well as any vote-by-mail initiatives. The USPS is the federal government’s most favorably viewed agency, with an approval rating of 90%. Yet once again, the USPS is in crisis mode.
The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors will meet in open session on April 1, 2020, at 12 noon ET. The Board is expected to discuss the following items:
The cheeky note on the roll of toilet paper says, ‘we hope your day isn’t too crappy! We know being out is a risk and we appreciate you!’
Mail carriers are also still reporting to duty, even with personal risk. “Each individual feels their personal safety could be jeopardized and that of their family,” Mack Julion, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11. Their concerns, the same as others on the battleground of this pandemic: access to personal protective equipment and safety.
The unions representing these essential workers now want to make it official, to be recognized as true first responders to give them access to what they need.
The bipartisan bill would ease the financial challenges that critics have used to justify calls for postal worker wage cuts and selling lucrative parts of the service to for-profit corporations.