LOWELL – U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan told seven of her fellow Bay State congressmen that her office has been contacted over 5,000 times by 3rd District constituents with concerns about the U.S. Postal Service, including veterans and senior citizens who get their prescriptions through the mail and fear any delays in service.
But, Trahan said, one group of constituents she hasn’t heard from are the postmasters in communities across her district. And she has tried to contact them.
“We haven’t been able to get a response because the leadership of the Post Office is blocking post offices from talking to congressional offices like mine,” she said. Trahan said her office was repeatedly referred to “PR people” and other Post Office spokespeople, instead of being allowed to talk to local officials.
Trahan spoke on a conference call about Democrat’s outrage over efforts to slow mail delivery. Eight of the state’s nine representatives took part, with only Rep. Seth Moulton absent. Moulton represents several Greater Lowell communities, including Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Tewksbury and Wilmington.
Trahan expressed outrage over moves to delay the mail because many veterans get their Veteran’s Administration prescriptions via the mail.
Trahan called for the immediately resignation of Postmaster Louis DeJoy, saying his main qualification for the post was being a top donor to the campaign of President Donald Trump.
“DeJoy’s actions have the ability to endanger the health and well-being of millions of veterans in America, who usually get their prescriptions in three to five days,” she said. “He should resign effective immediately and, frankly, a career postal worker should take over in his absence.”
Others on the call, including Rep. Joe Kennedy III and Rep. Jim McGovern, spoke in even more dire terms.
“They’re committing voter fraud through voter suppression,” Kennedy said, noting that prescriptions, unemployment checks, paychecks, and other important items will be held up by slowed mail, too.
“If you delay those by days or a week, there are going to be drastic consequences for families across this country,” Kennedy said.
Rep. Jim McGovern was perhaps the most harsh among the delegation, excoriating both DeJoy and Trump. He called DeJoy “a poor excuse for a public servant,” who has “disgraced his position.”
“This is a five-alarm fire for our democracy and Trump is doing what he has always done in his businesses and his politics: He’s trying to cheat again. He’s trying to disenfranchise voters from participating in the next election,” McGovern said. “We shouldn’t be surprised, because the president always puts himself first and America last.”
Rep. Bill Keating spoke of his time working as a mail carrier when he was in college, and how much it taught him about how important the mail is when residents were waiting on days when he was late with the mail, and pleasantly surprised on days when he got to them early.
“I got to know every dog that was in the Town of Sharon at the time,” he said.
Keating said that in addition to slowing the mail by decreasing the number of sorting machines, DeJoy has also caused major damage by reducing overtime.
“The volume of the mail is not static,” he said. “You need that overtime to guarantee service, and when you cut back on overtime you affect service dramatically.”
The representatives all touted the Delivery for America Act, which Democrats plan to pass in the House of Representatives on Saturday, though whether the bill will ever be considered in the Senate remains to be seen.
Keating and other representatives said they hope pressure from the public will force the Senate, and perhaps even President Trump to act.
“The Post Office has the highest approval rating of any government agency,” Trahan said.
The bill would appropriate $25 billion to help the Postal Service process mail in ballots, and would prohibit changes from the way the agency operated at the start of this year.
Asked what residents can do if the bill doesn’t pass or if they still have concerns about timely delivery of their ballots, Keating suggested voting as early as possible if voting by mail, or delivering your ballot to a depository most cities and towns have to accept ballots at town or city offices.