Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Connect

San Marcos Daily Record: Guarding Our Health And The Health Of Our Democracy: Congressman Doggett On Saving USPS

August 23, 2020

The emails and calls have been pouring into my office, but the letters are a little slower.

A disabled veteran with Parkinson’s called to say: “This is not the America I fought for.” He is not receiving prescriptions from the Postal Service on time.

An office manager said, “For the past 15 years, I have received a particular utility bill on or before the 1st of the month.” This month, it was nearly two weeks late.

A small business owner called me letting me know packages are “bouncing around the country like a ping pong ball.” A husband wrote me on behalf of his wife, with ALS and Stage IV cancer, that delays meant she missed several doses of critical medicine.

A local pastor reported that much of the information in the church newsletter was outdated during almost the month before reaching the congregation.

We all depend upon the enduring, equal public service provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS)— in cities and rural areas, in quiet periods and busy seasons. Until recently, it has enjoyed broad, bipartisan political support. Over these same recent weeks, overwhelming support from people across the country has been evident, as citizens joined in vocal defense of the institution.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved the Delivering for America Act, of which I am a sponsor. This simple, three-page bill, modestly requires USPS to uphold the standards existing last January combined with an appropriation, which the Trump-appointed Board of Governors previously requested to fund postal operations. To achieve prompt restoration of ordinary mail service, we have narrowed it in a way that removes any justifiable excuse for the Republican Senate and President Trump to delay its approval.

After President Trump appointed a mega-campaign donor as Postmaster General, the sabotage began. Mailboxes were removed, machines capable of sorting 35,000 mail pieces hourly were decommissioned, overtime necessary to ensure timely mail delivery was prohibited. Texas was near the top of the list, with 58 of these important sorters removed from operation. On July 10, postal workers were officially advised: “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks…which is not typical.”

In short, too often First Class Mail has been treated as third class. From these politically-motivated, deliberate changes, the harm has been far-reaching.

Here, President Trump, hardly known for telling the truth, was very frank about his indifference to poor service and adequate postal funding: “Now, they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means… they can’t have universal mail-in voting.” Very troubling that he was willing to sacrifice good mail service solely to improve his election chances.

Since the Civil War, voteby-mail has permitted participation by those unable to physically get to the polls. Since so many of our servicemembers still rely upon it, we even extended our Texas runoffs to ensure their voices are heard.

While all seniors can vote by mail, those under 65 with any physical condition creating a likelihood of injuring their health at the polls may do the same. With COVID-19 infections and deaths surging, amid fall flu season, many Texans can wisely choose this method to protect their health, even those who don’t ordinarily consider themselves disabled. Lack of immunity alone is insufficient, but each individual decides whether qualified such as considering a CDC-identified heightened risk factor including pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, cancer, sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease, smoking or even obesity. You decide for yourself; no disability police decide for you.

You can apply to vote by mail with the Hays County Clerk. For more information, see my webpage on voting safely, https://doggett.house.gov/voting-safely, or contact my office at 512-916-5921 or lloyd.doggett@mail.house.gov.

On the eve of being called before Senate and House investigative hearings, the Postmaster General announced that he would “suspend” some of his wrongdoing. This turnaround shows what public outcry and prompt, effective congressional oversight can accomplish—but much more is required than a pause in the sledgehammering. He must not only stop the slowdown but repair the damage he has wrought, including restoring the sorting machines and authorizing enough personnel to end delays.

For all who qualify, immediately request your application to vote by mail. So very, very much is at stake. Election Day is not just November 3. It is the September day when you receive your ballot and can vote safely in the comfort of your home.

In these painful times, let’s actively protect the health of one another from this awful disease and protect the health of our beleaguered democracy from a dangerous, ongoing threat.