Advance Notice: Briefs

Republican calls for postal office funding 

By: - August 21, 2020 8:56 am

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton | Andrew Roth

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) pledged to support United States Postal Service (USPS) funding ahead during a rare Saturday vote. The House session has been called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) 

“I don’t know what amendments are going to be there,” he told workers at a Kalamazoo-area post office on Thursday. “I’m going back Friday and intend to vote on Saturday to make sure our postal facilities across the country have the right resources to make sure that everybody’s mail is delivered timely.”

It is the latest development in an evolving political battle between Congress and the President Donald Trump administration involving widespread cuts to the USPS, resulting in long delays in mail service. Union leaders representing USPS workers have reported that mail sorting machines have been removed from processing facilities. 

Many Michigan Democrats have sounded the alarm about the impact on absentee votes ahead of the November general election. Trump has said the changes are intended to make mail-in voting more difficult during a global pandemic.

New Postmaster Louis DeJoy is testifying Friday before a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where U.S. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) is the ranking member and has raised numerous concerns.

Amid the outcry from House and Senate Democrats, DeJoy said Tuesday that he will halt some changes until after the general elections this fall. DeJoy said he will not change overtime rules, retail hours at local post offices, or the location of mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes, nor will he close any existing mail processing facilities. He also said the agency will use “standby” resources as of Oct. 1 to meet a possible surge in mail due to the elections.

However, WOOD-TV reported on Wednesday that a mail sorter was still being removed from the Grand Rapids post office. 

In a joint letter issued in May, Upton called on congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to fully support the USPS. 

“As you consider legislative priorities in any upcoming stimulus packages to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we urge you to incorporate provisions that will address the needs of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS),” reads the letter signed by 26 House Republicans. “Postal management believes that volume and revenue may drop by 50% due to COVID-19. Now is not the time to debate reforms to USPS but rather to provide much needed relief to keep this important service operational.”

Upton, the longest-serving House from Michigan, is being targeted by Democrats this fall and is being challenged by state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). 

Several lawsuits have been filed against USPS changes, with Michigan joining a suit led by Washington state. 

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.