At a roundtable this week, Representatives Greg Stanton and Tom O’Halleran heard from local leaders about how changes to the United States Postal Service will impact their communities. The congressmen were joined by a diverse group representing postal workers, tribes, seniors, veterans and small business owners.
On Saturday, the House of Representative will vote on the Delivering for America Act which would prohibit the Postal Service from changing the operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and provide $25 billion in emergency funding.
“A fully functioning Postal Service is critical to Arizonans’ lives and livelihoods. It supports small businesses and job seekers, ensures veterans and seniors get their benefits and life-saving prescription medication on time and it is a lifeline to our rural and tribal communities,” said Rep. Stanton. “The USPS is a crucial service that is enshrined in our Constitution, and I remain committed to ensuring it has the resources it needs to continue to serve Arizonans.”
“90% of veterans receive their medications by way of the USPS and Arizona’s mail-in voting infrastructure has protected the right of countless in our state to vote successfully for years now,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Every citizen has the right to safely participate in our democratic process and receive their needed medications, tax refunds, Social Security payments, regular paychecks, and newly-issued Economic Impact Payments—many of which have yet to reach American families because of postal delay. On Saturday, we’ll take much-needed action to ensure that the USPS can continue to operate without delay and free of political threat by voting to pass the Delivering for America Act.”
After immense public pressure, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Tuesday that he would halt several measures blamed for causing mail delays, including service reductions and the removal of mail-sorting machines and public collection boxes, until after the 2020 General Election.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Honorable Timothy Nuvangyaoma, Hopi Tribal Chairman
“The Trump administration has made it clear that they want to defund the United States Postal Service. I'm unclear why, because it provides such a critical service to Indian Country and many other rural communities across America. And when we're talking about defunding, we're fortunate to have the Postal Service out here that you know our tribe has been reliant on for as long as I've been alive out here on Hopi.”
Niki Ramirez, Small Business Owner, HR Answers (a human resources consulting firm)
“I think when we take a moment to step back and look at just overall what's happening here, it’s the erosion of a trusted system, right? So, of course, when we see our mail carriers and when I see mine every day, packing through the neighborhood I know she's going to be there, I trust them to be there. I don't worry about that, but when we start to erode foundations that we never even thought of before, right, we just know that the US Postal Service is going to be there, like we know our heart beats and the sun rises, the Postal Service is running…. So I think, you know, as small business leaders we have to look across the landscape. We have to remember that we built small businesses within our communities and our communities are built on trusted systems like the Postal Service.”
Terry Araman, Army Veteran and Director of Madison Street Veterans Association, a homeless veterans service organization
“For the last several years the Veterans Administration has really transitioned most delivery of medications to mail service. So, as Congressman Stanton said, something between 80 and 90% of all medications going to veterans, and we have a large veteran population in this country, go through the mail. And I have to tell you, I have a lot of friends in the veteran community so I get a lot of emails, I get a lot of discussion and so forth, and this whole issue with underfunding or under utilizing our postal services is creating incredible anxiety amongst veterans, especially those veterans who live in rural areas.”
Saundra Cole, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans
“I have a member that’s in the military, and she gets her prescriptions through the mail. And she says it usually takes three days, [but recently] it took her thirteen days, and it came from Tempe. So she's very upset and very worried... going from three days to thirteen days is very dangerous for seniors.”
Vic Peterson, Vice President of the Alliance for Retired Americans
“Prior to mid-July, if you would place an order, you can get a prescription back within five days. Last week, I placed an order for an additional prescription. I got the email back saying it was sent. So the next day I checked the tracking number, and it sat somewhere for four days. Finally I got an email Friday saying it would be delivered on Saturday, well it didn't show up on Saturday. It didn't show up again yesterday. So I called the tracking thing in the Postal Service and it had been sitting at a processing center in Phoenix since Thursday. So that’s a big issue, I was starting to run low, I was starting to consider calling my doctor and see if I could get a local prescription, because I only had four days left of that prescription. That affects a lot of seniors because most seniors, we are on long term medications and you have to do a mail order. And so, with that slowing it down, it just can be a serious issue. I take blood pressure medications and that definitely could be a serious issue.”
Video of the discussion is available here.