By Anica Padilla

DENVER (CBS4) — United States Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman Jason Crow spoke out Tuesday in support of legislation to protect the Postal Service, saying budget cuts would cause “irreparable harm” to veterans, seniors and people living in rural communities.

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump opposes legislation to provide additional funding for the Postal Service, saying it will not be able to handle mail-in ballots in the November election.

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In an interview with Fox Business last week, Pres. Trump criticized a coronavirus relief bill passed by House Democrats in May, which would provide $25 billion for the USPS and $3.5 billion in election assistance to states.

“They want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically. They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. 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.”

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

DeGette called it “an unprecedented attack on our Democracy and our voting system,” but said the impacts go far beyond the upcoming election.

“I’ve heard from hard working families who are struggling to pay their bills, because their paychecks haven’t arrived in the mail. I’ve heard from small business owners who say they’re struggling to stay afloat, because the goods and products that they ordered are just simply not arriving in time,” DeGette stated.

“And I’ve heard from seniors, and from veterans… who are not getting their life saving medication because it’s delayed by the mail,” DeGette stated. “Eighty percent of veterans receive their medications by mail delaying their prescriptions could cause serious damage to their health and well being.”

“It is a veteran’s issue,” Crow said, adding that the postal service delivers critical information about their veterans benefits, their tuition reimbursement and tuition payments.

Crow also spoke in support of Colorado’s mail-in voting system.

“We are a mail-in voting state predominantly. We are a state that does it really well for the last seven years, we have, we have done mail and voting Republicans, Democrats and independents alike have gotten behind our system, and it works, it works remarkably well,” Crow said. “But we need a healthy solvent post office to deliver those ballots and to retrieve those ballots.”

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DeGette and Crow said they will support legislation that will prevent the Trump Administration from making any changes to the Postal Service before the election.

“Specifically, the legislation will will prevent any changes to the postal services delivery standards that were in place on January 1, 2020… and any changes that would delay or cause mail not to be delivered,” DeGette said. “It also prevents the administration from closing or consolidating any post offices or reducing hours at any postal facility.”

“And it ends the administration’s prohibition on overtime pay for postal employees, which the letter carriers have I spoke to is causing a real backup in the mail facilities in this area,” DeGette said.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued the following statement today: “The United States Postal Service will play a critical role this year in delivering election mail for millions of voters across the country. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.

I want to make a few things clear:

The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.

I am announcing today the expansion of our current leadership taskforce on election mail to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country. Leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining this taskforce to ensure strong coordination throughout our organization. Because of the unprecedented demands of the 2020 election, this taskforce will help ensure that election officials and voters are well informed and fully supported by the Postal Service.

I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.

I want to assure all Americans of the following:

  1. Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
  2. Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
  3. No mail processing facilities will be closed.
  4. And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.

In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.

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I am grateful for the commitment and dedication of all the men and women of the Postal Service, and the trust they earn from the American public every day, especially as we continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19. As we move forward, they will have the full support of our organization throughout the election.”

Anica Padilla