US Postal Service faces challenges as new postmaster takes over

CNN's Jessica Dean reports on the financial challenges the US Postal Service is facing and the potential impact this could have on upcoming elections.

Posted: Jun 15, 2020 7:25 PM


As the newest US Postmaster begins his new job on Monday, the US Postal Service faces a number of challenges that are all intertwined: a financial crisis, ensuring the safety and health of its workers during a pandemic and looming questions over how voting by mail will work in the general election.

Louis DeJoy, a longtime Trump supporter and fundraiser, is now tasked with heading an agency from which the President himself has threatened to withhold funding.

"I look forward to working with supporters of the Postal Service in Congress and the Administration to ensure the Postal Service remains an integral part of the United States government," DeJoy said in a release announcing his new appointment. "It will be an incredible honor to serve as Postmaster General, and I commit myself to upholding the Postal Service's cherished role in our nation," he added.

DeJoy joins a Postal Service in crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the severity of already problematic finances at the USPS as mail volume has plunged. In April, the USPS told Congress it would be out of money by September and requested $75 billion in emergency funding.

Lawmakers had allocated $25 billion for the USPS in its coronavirus package, the CARES Act, in March, but the Trump administration blocked the funding, instead offering $10 billion in the form of loans and demanding "reforms" must be included as a condition of the loans.

"If they don't raise the price, I'm not signing anything," Trump said on April 24.

A US Postal Service spokesperson confirmed that, so far, they have not received any of the additional funding that they have requested. They would not comment on any ongoing negotiations with the Treasury Department over the loans.

The President's attacks on the Postal Service come as the organization is managing its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and as it prepares to deal with a potential increase in mail-in voting ballots this November for the general election.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, whose state conducts its elections entirely by mail, expressed concern about the Postal Service's budget crisis, saying that it is crucial for the USPS to be properly funded in order to handle the mail-in ballots this November.

"We have states that see 2% of their ballots cast by absentee ballot in a regular election, and they're going to see an increase anywhere from 20-25% to 60 or 70% of their ballots returned by mail," Wyman, a Republican, told CNN. "It's essential that the Post Office is able to deal with that increased volume."

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said that receiving the emergency funding the USPS has requested is crucial for postal workers to continue doing their job, including ensuring vote by mail ballots are handled properly.

"If the funding doesn't come through, everything we do, including vote by mail will be much harder," Dimondstein told CNN.

Trump attacks vote by mail

The challenges for USPS come as Trump, who has himself voted by mail during his time in the White House, repeatedly takes aim at the practice, citing a number of unsupported conspiracy theories in recent months.

"The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots," he tweeted on May 24. "It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and 'force' people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!"

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud associated with vote by mail.

Wyman says in Washington state, they are confident in the safety and security of their process.

"We can account for every single ballot that is mailed out and returned to election officials, and once they are in possession of those ballots they reconcile every single one and can tell down to a single ballot whether it was counted or rejected, and still maintain voter secrecy and that's after decades of really building in the controls to make sure that system is secure," Wyman said. Washington State has been entirely vote by mail since 2011.

Trump's comments have drawn the condemnation of his presumptive Democratic rival in the fall, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"This is a guy who said all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, direct voting by mail, while he sits behind a desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in the primary," Biden said in a recent interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.

Amid a pandemic

Amid the attacks, USPS officials continue to prepare for a November presidential election that will likely coincide with the continued efforts to battle an ongoing pandemic that has already killed more than 115,000 people.

With public health officials predicting that a second wave of the virus could hit in the fall, officials are concerned with how that will impact people's ability to vote safely. As a result, millions more people could end up voting by mail.

As the political fight over expanding vote by mail continues, a officials in a number of states are working to expand access. Officials in Michigan, Nevada, California, New Hampshire and Wisconsin have all made efforts to make it easier to vote by mail in November's election.

Five state are already entirely vote by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

The Postal Service will be a key part of that effort, even as its economic livelihood hangs in the balance.

That's why Wyman believes funding is not a political issue, but a critical one for all Americans.

"Let's face it, right now Democrats could not entertain the idea that they could lose in November, and Republicans can't entertain the idea that they could lose in November," Wyman said. "We have to convince the losing side that it was a fair and accurate election. That's how high the stakes are, and that's what election officials are doing to make sure that people believe the results at the end of November."

Trump allies in USPS leadership

As Trump has publicly criticized vote-by-mail practices, every member of the agency's Board of Governors is now a Trump appointee. DeJoy replaced Megan Brennan, who had been in her role since 2015 and announced plans to retire last year, as the new Postmaster General. Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman retired on June 1. The Board of Governors, which will include DeJoy, will select Stroman's replacement.

DeJoy hosted a fundraiser for Trump and the Republican National Committee at his home in North Carolina in October 2017 and was in the running to be the RNC finance chairman in 2018 after serving as deputy finance chairman. He is the former CEO of New Breed logistics, which was a contractor to the USPS for over 25 years, according to a USPS press release.

Dimondstein, the president of the Postal Workers Union, says they're watching carefully to see how DeJoy will lead, remaining hopeful he and the Board of Governors will strengthen the USPS and not try to privatize it.

"In the 1970s, after an historic postal strike, the modern post office was born, and part of what it attempted to do and what I think it has done well over decades now was to take the political process out of the postal service, how people get appointed, cronyism, patronage, and so on and so forth, and we do not want the post office to go back to those days," Dimondstein said.

Terre Haute
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 65°
Robinson
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 65°
Indianapolis
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 65°
Rockville
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 62°
Casey
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Marshall
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 65°
Mostly sunny, dry and breezy
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Barr-Reeve vs Loogootee 9-25-20 ITZ

Image

Harrison vs Vin Lin ITZ 9-25-20

Image

West Washington vs North Central ITZ 9-25-20

Image

Riverton Parke vs Cloverdale ITZ 9-25-20

Image

Linton vs North Daviess ITZ 9-25-20

Image

Indy Lutheran vs Northview ITZ 9-25-20

Image

OV vs Sullivan ITZ 9-25-20

Image

SP vs WV ITZ 9-25-20

Image

SV vs PH ITZ 9-25-20

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 286332

Reported Deaths: 8807
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1422155194
DuPage17253557
Lake16733487
Will13803378
Kane12974326
St. Clair6487189
Winnebago5750149
Madison5565136
Champaign458320
McHenry4536118
Peoria341349
McLean324522
Rock Island293575
Kankakee270977
Unassigned2538244
Sangamon236744
Kendall197525
Tazewell169822
LaSalle168256
DeKalb155138
Macon148744
Coles143730
Williamson138344
Jackson125724
Clinton112920
Boone109523
Adams108210
Randolph93311
Effingham8581
Whiteside72620
Vermilion7184
Ogle6746
Grundy6595
Henry6565
Monroe65215
Morgan64723
Knox6403
Bureau62511
Jefferson58738
Macoupin5357
Marion5320
Christian52111
Franklin5203
Union51424
Stephenson5106
McDonough47515
Logan4591
Crawford4293
Woodford4216
Fayette4023
Cass39311
Jersey38915
Shelby3724
Livingston3716
Montgomery36213
Iroquois36119
Lee3601
Perry34515
Warren3272
Saline3194
Bond3135
Douglas3037
Wayne2695
Jo Daviess2572
Lawrence2522
Carroll2284
Greene21910
Moultrie2133
Cumberland2115
Hancock2063
Jasper2069
Richland2045
Washington2041
Pulaski1731
White1670
Fulton1620
Clark1582
Johnson1530
Wabash1501
Clay1490
Mason1401
Mercer1375
Piatt1370
Menard1241
Pike1231
Edgar1138
De Witt1121
Massac1072
Marshall1010
Ford1005
Scott770
Alexander761
Gallatin712
Hamilton680
Henderson660
Edwards640
Calhoun580
Putnam570
Brown560
Stark552
Schuyler490
Hardin390
Pope271
Out of IL40

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 115407

Reported Deaths: 3566
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21196765
Lake10493323
Elkhart6528110
St. Joseph6392106
Allen6178202
Hamilton4848109
Vanderburgh360930
Hendricks2715123
Monroe256036
Tippecanoe239113
Johnson2305123
Clark221457
Porter213647
Delaware194262
Cass19419
Vigo182526
Madison164375
LaPorte142340
Floyd135862
Howard130563
Warrick128038
Kosciusko121617
Bartholomew116457
Marshall100824
Dubois96919
Boone96846
Hancock92143
Grant91934
Noble90832
Henry79826
Wayne75414
Jackson7499
Morgan71638
Shelby67229
Daviess66328
Dearborn66028
LaGrange63411
Clinton59914
Harrison57624
Putnam56412
Knox5159
Gibson5114
Lawrence51129
Montgomery50821
White48514
DeKalb47611
Decatur45839
Miami4353
Greene42435
Fayette42113
Jasper3942
Steuben3807
Scott37311
Sullivan33712
Posey3240
Jennings31312
Franklin30725
Clay3005
Ripley2968
Orange28824
Carroll27413
Whitley2707
Washington2651
Wabash2648
Starke2637
Adams2613
Wells2614
Jefferson2483
Spencer2413
Fulton2382
Huntington2363
Tipton22622
Perry22113
Randolph2167
Jay1800
Newton17311
Owen1681
Martin1640
Rush1554
Pike1471
Vermillion1280
Fountain1232
Blackford1193
Pulaski1131
Crawford1050
Brown1043
Parke962
Benton880
Ohio787
Union780
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0226