CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – U.S. Postal Service is considering closing post offices across the country, raising concerns over an anticipated increase in postal votes in the 2020 elections, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and a union leader said Wednesday.
Manchin said he received several reports from post offices and colleagues about service outages or imminent closures in West Virginia and elsewhere, prompting him to send a letter. to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy where they asked for an explanation.
The chances of cuts come as DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump who took control of the agency last month, moves to eliminate overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers, potentially causes delays in mail deliveries. A recent document from the Postal Service, obtained from The Associated Press, outlined the need for an “operational pivot” to make the agency stuck with the money financially stable.
“It’s so much asinine that you think you can put something off or speed it up in terms of the pandemic when basically the lifeline for voting and democracy will be in the hands of the Postal Service,” Manchin, Democrat , he told reporters Wednesday.
He said at least two post offices in West Virginia were scheduled to close next month but that the agency had “failed”; in its plans.
A spokesman for the Postal Service referred questions to an earlier statement by DeJoy, who said the agency “has experienced more than a decade of financial losses, with no goal in sight, and we are facing an impending liquidity crisis.” The statement goes on to say that “it is critical that the Postal Service take a fresh look at our operations and make the necessary adjustments.”
Mark Dimondstein, president of the Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 postal and retired workers, said there was a “sure buzz” about the closure although he said he was unaware of the specific details. A spokesman for the union said the classification and file postal employees were told by managers that their offices are being targeted for potential reduction.
“The logical conclusion is that he will try to close some post offices,” Dimondstein said of the postmaster’s belt-tightening strategies.
The coronavirus pandemic has put more pressure on the finances of the Postal Service. The service reported a $ 4.5 billion loss for the quarter that ended in March, before full closing effects dropped.
Manchin’s letter noted that the coronavirus aid package passed by Congress in March included an authorization for the agency to borrow up to $ 10 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The money was intended to help the Postal Service maintain essential services during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, not only has nothing of that funding been used, you’re now proposing the very cuts we sought to avoid with that emergency line of credit,” Manchin said in his letter.
Later on Wednesday, the Treasury announced that it had reached an agreement with the Postal Service on the terms of any future loans but also said that the service was able to finance its operations at this time without using self.
The Associated Press produced this cover with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.