U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) has made national headlines after an interview with Fox News to vocalize his opposition against the House Democrats’ recent bill, the Delivering for America Act, which would provide $25 billion in additional funding to the U.S. Postal Service, designed in part to prevent restrictions and delays in Postal Service operations.
The bill would be in effect through January or until COVID-19 is no longer considered a national emergency, whichever is longer.
The bill follows highly publicized and highly controversial actions made by Louis DeJoy, the current USPS Postmaster General who took over the role mid-June.
DeJoy removed mail sorting machines from postal facilities, pulled blue mail collection boxes across the country, and cut overtime pay for postal employees, which caused significant delays in mail delivery and subsequently provoked political pushback and public protests and rallies.
“The Postal Service has been bleeding money for 40 years,” Buck told Fox News. “We are sending less and less snail mail now and more and more email–communicating with Facebook and other social media platforms. So there is less mail in the system.”
According to CNN, however, the postal service is cash-positive. Although letter volume has decreased, the decrease “has been more than made up by increased package shipments.”
The lack of profitability in the USPS budget specifically stems from an outdated policy from 2006 that requires the postal service to pre-pay medical benefits to USPS retirees–a policy that has received bipartisan effort to be overturned, in the USPS Fairness Act, which passed the House in February.
Rep. Buck seemed to brush over the policy issue in characterizing the problem, while he lauded DeJoy’s efforts at reform:
“A number of postmaster generals on both sides of the aisles have been trying to reform the Postal service–to reduce the benefits and number of facilities–and we are $150-250 billion in the red in the last 15-20 years,” Buck said during the interview. “It’s just incredibly inefficient and I applaud the postmaster general for trying to reform the agency.”
DeJoy apologized for the removal of USPS property, but expressed that he would not replace them without any funds to do so.
Many are concerned that DeJoy’s ties to President Trump–particularly as a major donor to the RNC and Trump’s campaign–mean that these actions of suddenly reducing constituents’ abilities to reach mailboxes and have their mail processed in a timely manner indicate an intent to meddle in the upcoming election by limiting mail-in ballots.
Buck went on air last week on a KOA News Radio morning talk show to express his views of the postal service. He argued, among other things, that concerns about Trump trying to influence the elections are unfounded.
“They’re alleging that the president is trying to influence the election, and it’s just not true,” said Buck. “These reforms wouldn’t have any impact on the election because they wouldn’t go into effect until after the election, and the reforms are desperately needed, and so I think it’s just unfortunate that, again, we can’t responsibly govern without the political drama that we’ve seen for a couple of years.”
When asked if he thought the USPS could handle mail-in ballots come November in Colorado, a state where vote-by-mail is already well-established and successful, Buck appeared to have faith in the Postal Service.
“I’m confident that [the USPS] can [handle mail-in ballots in November], and I’m confident that we will have a free and fair election, and that we won’t have foreign interference. It should be an issue we discuss, it should be something we are very concerned about. But it’s also something that the government, the FBI, and other agencies have been taking very seriously.”
Buck landed in hot water in May after signs that one of his aides, and potentially Buck himself, were involved in election fraud in Weld and El Paso counties in Colorado, according to the Denver Post.
Following Saturday’s House vote, Buck went on 710 KNUS to talk with Randy Corporon on his morning talk show, suggesting that the postal service issue and consequent vote on the emergency bill was a publicity stunt on the part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
“…Republicans are trying to reform the postal service. It is 280 billion with a B, $280 billion in debt as a result of their ridiculous pension fund and the fact that less people are sending mail now and so they refuse to shut any of their services down, and serious, serious problems with the postal service can’t be reformed because of Democrats.”
“So when this postal–this postmaster general suggested some reforms, Democrats tried to spin that and suggest that the president was trying to, you know, somehow inhibit mail-in ballots. And so the postmaster general said, ‘Okay, we won’t do anything until after the election, but this system needs to be reformed.’ And Nancy Pelosi, of course, wants a publicity moment, so she decides to have a vote on the floor and the Democrats don’t show up. They just vote by, you know, remotely. So it’s it’s just for show and trying to grab a headline today.”
Rep. Buck added that “part of what [Pelosi’s] trying to do is step on the Republican convention next week and to try to distract from the really positive message that Republicans have about the president’s accomplishments,” Buck said.
The emergency bill meant to block DeJoy from enforcing any more major changes to the USPS system passed the House with a mostly partisan vote, but is expected to meet a wall in the Senate, according to The Hill.