As Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he would suspend cost-cutting measures at the US Postal Service amid an outcry over mail delays potentially interfering with upcoming elections, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said her office plans to go forward with a lawsuit challenging nationwide operational changes to the postal service.
“This isn’t the first time the Trump Administration has backed down when Democratic AGs have filed suit,” Healey said in a statement Tuesday. “But we aren’t going to just take Postmaster General DeJoy at his word — we need concrete action and binding agreements. With no indication of that, we are moving forward with our lawsuit to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its illegal actions and to make sure every vote counts.”
In a statement on Tuesday, DeJoy said he would “suspend” several of his initiatives, including the removal of the distinctive blue mail boxes that prompted an outcry, until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”
“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” he said.
The abrupt reversal from DeJoy, who is set to testify Friday before the Senate, came as more than 20 states, from New York to California, announced they would be filing suit to stop the changes. Several attorneys general, Healey among them, vowed they would press on and keep a close eye on the Postal Service leading up to the election.
Lawmakers have recently raised concerns that changes to the country’s mail delivery system would threaten the ability of Americans to vote in upcoming elections.
On Monday, a group of US Senators said that within days of DeJoy’s May appointment to the postmaster general post he “cut hours at some post offices, denied overtime to mail clerks and carriers, and required that carriers leave some mail behind.”
On Tuesday, DeJoy said retail hours at post offices will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will stay where they are, and no mail processing facilities will be closed. He also asserted that “overtime has, and will continue, to be, approved as needed.”
Shortly before DeJoy’s announcement, Healey’s office said that postal service policy changes, including limiting staff overtime and so-called “late or extra shifts,” have hurt “the prompt delivery of mail to Americans who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions to ballots.”
The lawsuit, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, will contend that the Postal Service unlawfully implemented widespread changes to mail service nationwide. The litigation will seek to reverse the agency’s actions, guarantee safeguards and standards for election mail, and block the unlawful cuts and operational changes at the Postal Service, officials said.
It will allege the postal service acted outside of its authority to implement changes to the country’s mail system and failed to follow federal requirements, which call for USPS changes that cause a nationwide impact to be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission, according to Healey’s office. The evaluation process of that body includes public notice and comment, and the postal service’s “sudden and unilateral changes to the nature of postal services deprived the states of their procedural right to comment on such changes prior to implementation as established by federal law,” Healey’s office said.
Material from the Associated Press and The New York Times was used in this report.