New York Times
WASHINGTON — Ravaged by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Postal Service appealed to lawmakers on Thursday for an $89 billion lifeline, telling them that it could run out of cash by the end of September if Congress fails to act.
But as Washington begins to debate the next round of government relief to prop up the virus-plagued economy, a Postal Service bailout has already emerged as a political sticking point, with Democrats pressing to deliver one and President Trump, a persistent critic of the agency, opposed. The debate appears to be playing out along the same fault lines that have divided the two sides for years as they have quibbled over how to position the cash-strapped agency — one of the government’s oldest and most reliable entities — for an increasingly digital future.
President Trump this week dismissed requests for emergency funding for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, attributing its financial woes to mismanagement as the agency sounds the alarm about the negative impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, House Democrats unveiled a plan for a different stimulus package that included a $25 billion cash injection into the Postal Service. The Senate compromise left that provision out, instead providing USPS with a $10 billion line of credit. In a letter to congressional leadership on Tuesday, a group of House Democrats renewed their push for a $25 billion appropriation in a forthcoming “phase four” coronavirus relief bill expected to receive a vote in the coming days.
Of the myriad pathological fixations swirling around President Trump’s approach to governing, perhaps the oddest is his unrelenting hostility to the U.S. Postal Service.
Trump was at it again during a news briefing Tuesday, when, prompted by a question from a reporter, he hared off after the Postal Service and one of its most important customers, Amazon.com.
As the United States confronts the coronavirus outbreak, Americans continue to rate a wide range of federal agencies favorably, including two at the forefront of dealing with COVID-19: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Other federal agencies, including the Postal Service, the Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security, also receive broadly favorable ratings from the public.
The public has long viewed the CDC positively. Currently, 79% of U.S. adults express a favorable opinion of the CDC, including large majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (84%) and Democrats and Democratic leaners (77%).
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: