PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island’s congressional delegation is demanding that President Donald Trump stop “sabotaging the United States Postal Service.”
In a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, called the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine the Postal Service “unacceptable.”
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“We urge you to suspend these harmful operational changes and turn your attention to supporting the mission of the USPS and its workers in providing an invaluable service to the American people and businesses,” the letter reads.
DeJoy recently slowed delivery, reduced sorting machines and operating hours in some states, and decided that mail-in ballots will no longer be considered priority mail. Trump has defended his actions, calling him a “very talented man.”
“The steps that he’s taken are trying to stop the tremendous losses that have taken place for many years,” Trump said. “He’s trying to streamline the post office and make it great again.”
Langevin tells Eyewitness News that Trump is trying to defund the Postal Service prior to the election, when many Americans will be sending in mail ballots because of COVID-19.
“I believe that Congress should act with urgency to appropriate the funds necessary to make sure the Postal Service has the resources it needs,” Langevin said. “The changes that he’s made are harming the post office by all accounts. Eliminating sorting machines and delivery mailboxes … these are things that I have deep concerns about and it seems there is a deliberate effort to slow down that mail service to prevent mail ballots from being counted on Election Day.”
In the letter, the lawmakers said a pilot program is underway in Pawtucket for a new delivery initiative test, which instructs letter carriers to leave without all of the day’s mail, complete their route, then return to the branch to sort and file the remaining mail for the next day.
The program was implemented without the consent of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the lawmakers said, adding that other postal branches in the state have switched to the new delivery system.
The lawmakers said the program has “severely curtailed the ability of letter carriers to deliver the mail on a consistent and timely basis” while also creating a recurring backlog.
The U.S. House is set to vote on legislation this Saturday that would prohibit further changes to the agency.
Eyewitness News reached out to USPS Northeast for comment but has not heard back.