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House hearing examines what it will take to fix USPS problems

The US Postal Service is proposing a holiday surcharge to offset rising delivery costs.
The US Postal Service is proposing a holiday surcharge to offset rising delivery costs.(CNN Newsource)
Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT
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NORFOLK, Va. — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to know what it will take to fix the U.S. Postal Service.

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Operations held a meeting in Chicago Friday, which also featured virtual participation from members in the group.

The focus: slow delivery times across the country, especially in hardest-hit cities, like Chicago and Baltimore.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, delivery times improved between July and September but still fell short of its goals. 

Slow mail delivery has plagued communities across the country and is expected to worsen, soon.

“As bad as the problems are right now, we are coming up in peak season, so it can get a lot worse,” said Committee Chairman Rep. Gerald Connolly, (D - Virginia)

During the meeting, several lawmakers laid out their frustrations with the nation’s mailing service.

“Why is my mail late? Why are my prescription drugs, my checks that I rely on -- Small businesses, think about that,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence, (D - Michigan).

Lawrence said she spent her entire professional career employed by the U.S. Postal Service, and she is discouraged by the challenges plaguing the department.

“Missing service standards hurt those who rely on the Postal Service, and prove to be a death spiral for the Postal Service,” said Rep. Connolly.

Several Democratic committee members voiced concerns with the leadership of Post Master General Louis DeJoy, who’s come under fire since taking over the position last year.

Rep. Fred Keller (R- Pennsylvania) argued the issues aren’t new and shouldn’t be blamed on DeJoy, alone.

“If we look at what’s going on with the Post Office, they have been losing money for years,” said Keller.

The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General’s Office said many things are causing the service delays. Those things include staffing shortages, an inability to handle an uptick in packages, mail being sent to the wrong facilities and mail not being fully sorted when it gets to the post office.

Earlier this year, the postal service released a 10-year-plan to reach a 95% on-time performance goal. 

USPS is currently installing new, high speed packaging equipment across the country and looking to hire 40,000 seasonal employees by the end of the year. 

“However, implementing multiple initiatives to correct these issues will be challenging, especially now as the Postal Service is entering the holiday peak season,” said Melinda Perez, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audit in the Office of Inspector General.

National Association of Letter Carriers Union representative Mack Julian said post offices are not ready for the holiday because they are not properly staffed.

“To get ready for this holiday season? We should’ve started this summer. Right now we are on the path to getting ready for Easter,” said Julian.

Perez said the Inspector General’s Office plans to conduct audits of the Postal Service’s operations soon.

House lawmakers want to pass the Postal Service Reform Act, a bipartisan bill that would create more oversight of the agency, among other initiatives.

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