Blaming President Donald Trump for attempting to manipulate the election by slowing the postal service, two Valley congressmen vowed to fight for the mail.
Standing in front of the post office in downtown Fresno, TJ Cox and Jim Costa, both Fresno Democrats, said they are returning to Washington later this week to support a party plan to fund the post office and prevent further reductions of service.
Costa said that cuts to the postal service puts “Americans health and safety at risk.”
Preserving the integrity of the election was the top concern for Costa and Cox. In the era of COVID-19, several states are anticipating an increase of ballots returned by mail.
Costa said Trump is attempting to steer the election in his favor.
“I think there has been a deliberate attempt. The president said very clearly when more people vote, that’s not good. And he’s making constant efforts to cast doubt upon the outcome of the election,” Costa said.
Cox recalled the benefit of mail-in ballots.
“Let me tell you something. I know something about how important it is, mail-in ballots to elections” Cox said, referring to his election in 2018 victory by 862 votes.
As part of new laws in California, as long as a ballot is postmarked by election day, it can be received by the election clerk up to 17 days and still be counted.
Battle Against Trump
Last week, Trump opposed funding the postal service if it meant an increase in mail-in ballot support. Many, including the congressmen, interpreted the comments that Trump wanted to fix the election.
“They want $3.5 billion 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,” Trump told Fox Business Channel last week.
“But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it,” Trump said.
According to its website, the U.S. Postal Service does not receive tax dollars, relying on postage and other charges to customers.
Pelosi Calling for Vote
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is calling Congress back from recess later this week to vote on an emergency postal funding bill.
Called the “Delivering for America Act,” the bill would bar, until the pandemic is over, any operational changes from what was in place on Jan. 1. It would also provide $25 billion for operational costs.
“I think we’re going to have a chance to vote on a bill that will stop these dangerous measures taken by the president and send a message that we will not tolerate an effort to dismantle our nation’s institutions,” Costa said.
Asked where the money would come from, Costa answered “It comes from the United States Treasury.”
Costa was optimistic about bipartisan support this time around. An earlier funding COVID-19 relief bill passed by the House including support for the USPS, but never made it to the Senate.
“Traditionally Republicans have been better in absentee ballots,” Costa said.
Costa and Cox Object to Postmaster General Policies
Cox objected to procedures instituted by new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, including reducing overtime and removal of sorting machines and street mailboxes.
“Neither snow nor heat nor rain nor the gloom of night stays couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. But according to this administration, paying overtime will,” Cox said. “Instead of declaring war on the threat of virus, Donald Trump has declared war on the post office.”
Postmaster: ‘We Will Deliver Election Mail on Time’
In a news release Tuesday, DeJoy defended the postal service.
“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,” DeJoy said. “To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.”
Costa said saving the postal service is more than delivering mail-in ballots. He said 1.2 billion prescriptions were delivered through the mail last year. Many people rely on the mail for Social Security checks.
The congressmen pointed out that COVID-19 already was slowing mail deliveries.
“All of this is a deliberate attempt to slow down the mail. And that’s separate,” Costa said.
“Why would you be doing that (removing sorting machines, overtime, and mailboxes) in the middle of a pandemic? You wouldn’t unless you had a deliberate attempt to harm the post office and harm this entire process. So that’s was reprehensible. We should be working together to enhance and improve the efficiency of the post office. Not the other way,” Cox said.
A USPS spokeswoman declined to say if any sorting machines or mailboxes have been removed in the Fresno area.
Valadao Voices Support for Postal Service
David Valadao, the former Republican congressman running again against Cox, says he, too, supports the USPS.
“This year their role will be even more important. I’m glad the Postmaster General has come out publicly and put to rest any doubts that voters may have had about absentee and mail ballot delivery,” Valadao told GV Wire℠ by email. “Hopefully the USPS can stop being used as a political football now and Congress gets back to work on more relief for small businesses and unemployed workers.”
Kevin Cookingham, a Madera County Republican running against Costa, wasn’t impressed with what Costa and Cos had to say.
“Nancy Pelosi and AOC would be proud of Congressmen Cox and Costa for hitting on all the USPS far left talking points at today’s news conference,” Coookingham said in an email to GV Wire℠. “The timing of these changes should have been initiated after the election because of the optics. This is why he now has reversed some very much needed changes until after the election.”
Cookingham’s full remarks can be read here.