U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Friday called for "the immediate funding" of the U.S. Postal Service as the pandemic continues to take its toll.
Durbin said USPS "services are essential in ensuring Americans receive medications, paychecks, and packages" but he also noted their importance in "allowing Americans to safely exercise their right to vote through mail-in voting."
The postal service, like most agencies and businesses across the country, is operating under new circumstances as the pandemic takes a toll on staffing, delivery and even postal offices.
"USPS has seen an increase in package volume between 20 percent and 80 percent over pre-pandemic levels," Durbin's office said in a release. "In addition to this increase, last month, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy eliminated overtime, which is when nearly 20 percent of postal work is done, reduced sorting and processing hours, and made changes to how mail rounds are conducted. These impacts have led to significant delays in mail delivery across the country."
USPS has faced scrutiny nationwide over slow service amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The issue reached a boiling point Monday when President Donald Trump said that he doesn't believe the postal service is equipped to deal with the volume of mail that will come as a result of mail-in voting.
“There is not going to be an impact on service,” Justin Glass, director of the postal service's election mail operations, assured Ohio election officials Thursday. “There may be some temporary things as we adjust but those are all temporary.”
Last month, cost-cutting efforts were imposed by the new postmaster general that would impact delivery by a day or more. The agency has underscored that employees must adopt a “different mindset” to ensure the Postal Service’s survival during the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes include no longer authorizing late trips and if postal distribution centers are running late, “they will keep the mail for the next day,″ Postal Service leaders said in a document obtained by The Associated Press in July.
Glass denied that report, saying the postal service continues to operate with a lot of overtime but is also adhering to a schedule more than before.
“We are not going to cut off operations and really leave election mail sitting there by itself," Glass said.