A man pulls crates of mail to a U.S. Postal Service truck in New York City. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said changes he was brought in to make at the USPS will be suspended until after the election. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday that he's suspending some of the changes he's made to the U.S. Postal Service since taking office "to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."
DeJoy promised the USPS would be able to handle the expected increase of mail volume in the coming months as Americans receive and return mail-in ballots for the November election.
"Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation's election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day," he said.
DeJoy said he's expanding a leadership task force on election mail to coordinate with state and local election officials. Additionally, retail hours at post offices will stay the same, mail sorting equipment and collection boxes will remain in place, no mail processing facilities will be closed, and overtime will be approved as needed.
"I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective," he said, adding that some changes began before his time as solicitor general.
"To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded."
It's unclear whether DeJoy's announcement means that collection boxes and mail sorting machines already removed will be returned to their original locations. It's also unclear whether the approval of overtime hours will return to levels seen before DeJoy assumed his position.
DeJoy's statement came two days after he agreed to testify next week about changes made to the USPS before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Earlier this month, the USPS warned 46 states and Washington, D.C., that some mail-in ballots might not be counted in time for the election. The agency told the states their time frames and deadlines for mail-in voting would be "incongruous" with delivery standards, meaning some ballots might not arrive in time to be counted.
The financially struggling USPS has been undergoing an organizational overhaul, including removing mail sorting machines from facilities across the country, some of which would normally be used to sort mail-in ballots, Vice reported.
DeJoy, a Trump donor who was tapped to run the USPS three months ago, also has curtailed overtime at the agency, leading to delays in deliveries.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for representatives to return to Washington, D.C., this week to vote on a bill to prevent the Trump administration from implementing changes to the USPS that she says is an attempt to sabotage the general election.
House Democrats held a news conference outside USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, supporting the legislation.
"The actions today where the [postmaster] general said we're not going to implement any of those changes until after the election -- well, we're going to make sure in law that that is the case because he should not, and he should not have done what he's done to date," House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said. "And he must reverse any adverse consequences of the actions that have been taken to date."