BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Democrats on Monday lashed out at what they called President Donald Trump’s “sabotage” of the United States Postal Service, with Congressman Kweisi Mfume calling on Postmaster General and Republican donor Louis DeJoy to step down ahead of his testimony before the House Oversight Committee next week.
“Mr. DeJoy, do us all a favor. Even before the hearings, submit your letter of resignation,” Mfume said during a news conference Monday outside of Baltimore’s main post office on Fayette Street. “Ride off into the sunset and restore the decency and the fabric of the United States Postal System.”
Mfume also criticized reported mail slowdowns, which the lawmakers said people in 14 neighborhoods in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County have experienced.
“That service is hampered as you have heard by the deliberate slowdown, by the refusal to give overtime, by hijacking mailboxes off of every corner they can find and taking sorting machines out of postal offices,” the congressman said.
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 17, 2020
The lawmakers called on the postal service to reverse any changes that are causing delays in mail delivery, affecting not only letters but prescriptions, retirement checks and more.
“Shame, shame, shame. We are not going to stand for it, and I hope people across this country don’t stand for it. Baltimore is making a bold statement along with the rest of Maryland that the foolishness must end,” Mfume said.
The lawmakers allege the Trump administration is trying to undermine the upcoming presidential election in which a record number of people are expected to mail their ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“They’re trying to make it more difficult for people to vote, that’s unconscionable in a democracy,” Sen. Ben Cardin said.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen asked that Trump end the “sabotage” of the USPS.
Van Hollen said most lawmakers first learned of issues from their constituents who were reporting a slow-down in the mail.
As he and others began to ask questions, they learned the directives were coming from someone “higher up” within the USPS.
“This was part of a deliberate effort by the new Trump-appointed postmaster general,” Van Hollen said.
President Trump denies the accusations. Asked if he directed Postmaster General DeJoy to deliberately slow the mail, the president told reporters this:
“No. Not at all. Wouldn’t do that. I have encouraged everybody speed up the mail not slow the mail, and I also want to have a post office that runs without losing billions and billions of dollars a year as it has been doing for 50 years.”
Agency leaders put in place a number of changes, including a reduction in staffing and overtime, and then they removed procession and sorting machines at a number of USPS facilities, including a central location in Baltimore.
One such change was the removal of a street corner mailbox near the intersection of 31st Street and Abell Avenue in north Baltimore. Carlene Moscatt, who lives nearby, said she was stunned to see it disappear after 50 years.
“I put in a complaint that it was missing,” Moscatt told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren about her efforts to reach out to the USPS.
USPS said the mailbox was removed due to construction, but after reports of other mailboxes disappearing in other parts of the country, Moscatt doesn’t buy it.
“It’s very disturbing to think that we will have to travel by car to find a mailbox,” she said.
The changes, “Would be unacceptable at any time, but especially so during a pandemic when more and more people rely on the mail,” Van Hollen said, “and also during a critical election season when more Americans will be casting their vote through the USPS.”
Cardin shared some of his constituents are worried they won’t be able to vote safely through the mail. Cardin’s office has also learned from veterans and seniors who are not receiving their prescription medicines. Businesses are also worried if USPS will be reliable to help them maintain their services during the pandemic.
“When you attack the US postal service, you are attacking American families — plain and simple,” Rep. John Sarbanes said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the House to return for a special session to vote on legislation that prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.
Lawmakers were notified by House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer on Monday the chamber is expected to meet Saturday “to consider legislation related to the United States Postal Service.”
Meanwhile, Louis DeJoy, who took the helm of the U.S. Postal Service as postmaster general in June, and Robert Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, agreed to appear voluntarily before the Oversight panel August 24.