Ahead of a House session this Saturday, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, held a press conference on Tuesday morning in front of the downtown Palo Alto post office to address what she labeled as the Trump administration's attempt to "hijack" democracy by undermining the U.S. Postal Service.
With the general election less than three months away, Eshoo said that it was critical to support a service that's expected to receive an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"This fall, the Postal Service will have another task that is vital to our democracy: ensuring the timely delivery of millions of absentee ballots for the general election," she said.
Eshoo will join fellow House representatives on Aug. 22 in Washington, D.C., to vote on the Delivering for America Act, which was introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York, to maintain the standards and level of service the Postal Service had in place prior to the pandemic and halt any further changes. The bill would also provide $25 billion in much-needed funding for the federal agency. Eshoo said she expects the bill to receive bipartisan support.
Letter carrier Vu Tran, James Free, CEO of the Campbell Veterans Memorial Foundation, and Lisa Ratner, vice president of Palo Alto League of Women Voters also joined Eshoo at the Aug. 18 press conference.
"I depend on the post office for my medication from the Veterans Administration," Free said.
The Postal Service recently made headlines after Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is a known megadonor to the Republican Party and the president's campaign, began to introduce changes to the national Postal Service, including eliminating overtime for employees and removing mail-sorting machines from facilities across the country, which has caused delivery delays in some areas.
These changes have raised concerns that the Trump administration is attempting to cripple the agency ahead of the election as the president makes exaggerated claims of voter fraud from mail-in ballots, as seen in a May 28 tweet. In another tweet on July 30, he suggested that the nation delay the election because of the alleged potential for mail-in voter fraud and also recently told Fox Business that he wants to block funding for the Postal Service so it won't have the resources to process ballots in time for the November election.
"It's an election theft in progress," Eshoo said at the conference, also suggesting that DeJoy is trying to dismantle an agency he was appointed to lead in mid-June.
On Sunday, Eshoo submitted a letter to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, calling for a criminal investigation of DeJoy to see if the postmaster general violated any state laws that protect constituents' right to vote by mail. Becerra announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that the state is suing Trump for his "attacks on the USPS," making this the 96th lawsuit against the president.
Just as the conference ended, DeJoy released a statement that said to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail," he will halt any changes to the Postal Service "until after the election is concluded." He pledged that "retail hours at post offices will not change; mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are; no mail processing facilities will be closed; and we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed."
However, some, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, have said that DeJoy's statement does nothing to address the changes that were already made or the ongoing concerns about his possible conflict of interest.
DeJoy is expected to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, Aug. 21.