Sen. Coons delivers floor speech on USPS delays impacts on Delawareans
March 2, 2021
Sen. Coons: ‘Our letter carriers and our customers shouldn’t suffer because of toxic leadership at the highest levels of our Postal Service’
WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) yesterday delivered a speech [youtube.com] on the Senate floor to highlight ongoing problems with mail delivery in Delaware and across the country. His speech featured stories from Delawareans regarding the challenges they’ve faced amid
“Delawareans are tired and our Postal Service workers are tired, too, of the constraints placed on them. How will we solve this problem? In my view, we need to confirm [twitter.com] as quickly as possible President Biden’s nominees to the Postal Board of Governors: Ron Stroman, Amber McReynolds, and Anton Hajjar – all folks who have deep experience in the postal system. They can get us back on track,” said Senator Coons.
He continued, “We also have to prioritize investments in the Postal Service. Congress secured $10 billion for the Postal Service in the unanimously-passed CARES Act to provide the resources to maintain operation at a time when families are relying on mail service more than ever during this pandemic. I will continue to support the Postal Service. I will continue to petition the postmaster general, and I won’t stop until there is a solution to this critical and pressing issue. Our letter carriers and our customers shouldn’t suffer because of toxic leadership at the highest levels of our Postal Service.”
Delays have plagued the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) following a number of operational changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and unprecedented mail volume due to COVID-19. On Feb. 18, Senator Coons joined[coons.senate.gov] Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who chairs the committee that oversees USPS, on a letter pressing Postmaster General DeJoy for answers on continued mail delays and pushing to restore on-time delivery.
Click here [facebook.com] to watch Senator Coons’ recent video detailing the problems at USPS in Delaware and his efforts to conduct oversight and restore reliable mail service.
A transcript is provided below.
Sen. Coons: Madam President, it’s long been said that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays our United States postal couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. These words, in fact, are chiseled in granite above the entrance to the post office on 8th avenue in New York City, one of the grandest post offices in our nation. It’s the adopted creed of the faithful and hardworking letter carriers and front-line workforce of our Postal Service. And as I’ve said before, I have no beef with the men and women of our Postal Service, but I have real and deep concerns about how the Postal Service is being run under the current postmaster general.
President Biden doesn’t get to choose a new postmaster general just because he’s the new president. In fact, the current office holder, Louis DeJoy, was chosen by the board under the previous administration. And weeks ago, I joined with many colleagues and with Chairman Peters of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that’s responsible for the Postal Service to send a letter to press Postmaster General DeJoy to restore on-time delivery and stop the harmful system-wide changes that have caused unacceptable mail delays.
Sadly, that’s not the first time I’ve had to reach out with senators in this body to the postmaster general. In fact, on five separate occasions, we’ve written the postmaster general between August and February, last year to this year. We’ve demanded transparency. We’ve insisted on the restoration of mail sorting machines. We’ve asked for assistance with vote-by-mail deliveries and wrote for just simple answers to pending constituent inquires. And in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, last August, I joined our attorney general, Kathy Jennings; my senior senator, Tom Carper; Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester; and a series of union leaders for a day of action to save the Postal Service.
A few days later I drove myself to our mail distribution center in New Castle after leadership of the Postal Service denied my request to visit. Thanks to having been alerted by some frontline employees, I drove around back and was able to see a dismantled, massive piece of mail handling equipment left outside in the rain [twitter.com].
In January and February alone, my office received hundreds of messages from constituents complaining about mail issues. Since last April, I’ve heard from nearly 5,000 Delawareans, folks asking for robust funding for the Postal Service, wanting stronger vote-by-mail initiatives, and hundreds and hundreds of them reporting delays in the mail. I want to take a few minutes if I might, Madam President, and just go through some of these concerns I’ve heard which I have also heard from colleagues are being replicated across our nation.
Gloria Lester, down in Lewes in Sussex County, said mail that previously took just three to four days is now taking her four to six weeks. Her bills are due before she even gets the statements. And her husband’s V.A. medication took a month to arrive from the date it was mailed.
Jim Nichols of Milford wrote concerned about the delay in getting his newspapers, his magazines, his other periodicals and Jim is not alone. I’ve heard from local and regional newspapers that rely on the Postal Service to deliver to out-of-state and out-of-area subscribers. We have a beach area with a lot of homeowners who live here in our nation’s capital or elsewhere throughout the region and Chris Rausch who’s with the Cape Gazette that gets mailed to folks all over our region told me some of their out-of-state subscribers don’t receive the paper for a month and then when they do, they get a big bundle of old papers. Now with papers not showing up weeks at a time, they’ve had to tell subscribers this is just out of their control and offer refunds.
Megan Stibbe of the Delmarva Farmer, another local paper, said she’s been having a lot of trouble with Delaware deliveries. The postal system, as she said in writing to me, is very screwed up right now. Delmarva farmers haven’t received their newspapers at all in January. I’ve received dozens and dozens more e-mails and texts, letters and phone messages from frustrated constituents.
Dianne Boyle of Magnolia, Delaware felt so strongly about the ongoing debacle of delayed delivery from the Postal Service that she hand-delivered her own letter of concern to my Dover office.
Richard Bilkski of Selbyville, a gentleman with real and significant heart issues that require him to be on medication, was down to his very last pill on January 25. After calling and calling and calling, turned out that his medication had been sitting in the Wilmington Post Office for three weeks.
Toby Rubenstein from Hockessin wrote me and said, “I’ve paid my bills by check all my life and now the Postal Service is so unreliable, I have monthly problems paying my bills on time, and I’m not alone on this.”
Claudette Richardson of Newark, Delaware wrote me a note saying that she had mailed her sister a Christmas card on December 14th and it arrived February 12th.
Marcy Leib Rolmann wrote me and said, “our mail in Sussex County, as everywhere, is horrible despite our great letter carriers.”
Geiana Hollis of Wilmington wrote to tell me last month that because of her passport sitting idle at a Philadelphia distribution center for ten days, she was set to travel abroad and had to delay her trip.
Bill Powers, a former county councilman I know well from New Castle County, a member of the farm bureau, is a long-time turkey grower who now provides fresh eggs for local markets. Bill has experienced significant losses with turkey and chick deliveries and called my office with concerns.
I want to – before I close – mention one last story from Trebs Thompson of Newark, an egg farmer with Whimsical Farms. Trebs wrote, “largely, our Postal Service has been a jewel. It handles a large volume of mail cheaply with a high degree of speed and accuracy. Many of us depend on it for paperwork, medications, orders, payments, and for farmers like me, seeds and day-old chicks. The post office has been shipping day-old chicks to farms like mine,” Trebs wrote, “for over a hundred years. Today, all 20 baby hens arrived cold and lifeless. I cried as I opened the box. The postal supervisor cried. The gentleman who normally delivers my mail apologized profusely, but it’s not his fault. Whatever one feels about mail-in ballots or politics,” she wrote, “I’m asking you to put this aside and do what you can to restore the Postal Service.”
Madam President, Trebs Thompson is right. No farmer should have to open a box of dead chicks. No constituent should have to hand-deliver a letter to their senator. Our veterans shouldn’t be going without lifesaving medication. Postmaster DeJoy appeared before members of the House last week and apologized for the slow mail delivery and said he has a forthcoming plan which I’m concerned includes further cuts to delivery service.
So let me summarize. My understanding is that DeJoy’s plans for the future of the Postal Service include higher prices and slower delivery. Delawareans are tired and our Postal Service workers are tired, too, of the constraints placed on them. How will we solve this problem? In my view we need to confirm as quickly as possible President Biden’s nominees to the Postal Board of Governors: Ron Stroman, Amber McReynolds, and Anton Hajjar – all folks who have deep experience in the postal system. They can get us back on track.
We also have to prioritize investments in the Postal Service. Congress secured $10 billion for the Postal Service in the unanimously-passed CARES Act to provide the resources to maintain operation at a time when families are relying on mail service more than ever during this pandemic. I will continue to support the Postal Service. I will continue to petition the postmaster general, and I won’t stop until there is a solution to this critical and pressing issue. Our letter carriers and our customers shouldn’t suffer because of toxic leadership at the highest levels of our Postal Service. With that, Madam President, thank you, and I yield the floor.