Several members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation called for the ouster of President Trump’s postmaster general Tuesday, questioning Louis DeJoy’s assurances that he would “suspend” some changes to mail delivery until after the November election.
Amid a public outcry over the changes, which have been blamed for widespread delays in delivery, DeJoy said Tuesday he will reverse course and postpone the removal of sorting machines and blue curbside boxes, along with other cost-cutting measures, after Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and her counterparts in more than 20 other states threatened to sue to block the plan.
Representative Stephen Lynch said DeJoy’s announcement “implies that he’s relenting, but he is not.”
“If you read the language there, he’s saying that the [sorting] machines will stay where they are — but he has already removed the machines,” Lynch said in a live-streamed news conference that included every House member from Massachusetts except Representative Seth Moulton, who hosted a separate event denouncing DeJoy’s planned changes.
Lynch said the Postal Service has already removed six high-speed sorters from the South Station post office, three such machines from a facility in Central Massachusetts, and two from Brockton, where mail is sorted for parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
DeJoy is slated to testify Friday before the Senate and Monday before the House. During the news conference, several Massachusetts members of Congress called for DeJoy to step down.
Representative Ayanna Pressley called for his resignation and expressed outrage at what she described as “this administration’s attempts to undermine our faith and our confidence in the US Postal Service and in our postal workers and letter carriers.”
“This is a hell of a way to repay 600,000 letter carriers who are essential workers in the midst of this pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to ensure that people could receive stimulus checks and medications,” she said. “This is not only about the lives that they serve; this is about their very livelihoods.”
The representatives said they will vote Saturday on a bill that would provide $25 billion in emergency aid to the Postal Service and block the removal of sorting machines. Trump said last week he would block the effort.
Meanwhile, Healey said her office plans to proceed with a lawsuit challenging nationwide operational changes to the Postal Service, despite DeJoy’s about-face.
“This isn’t the first time the Trump Administration has backed down when Democratic AGs have filed suit,” she said in a statement. “But we aren’t going to just take Postmaster General DeJoy at his word — we need concrete action and binding agreements.”
She and several other attorneys general vowed they would keep a close eye on the Postal Service in the months leading up to the election. On Monday, a group of senators said that within days of his appointment to the postmaster general post in May, DeJoy “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.”
Healey’s office contended 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 pending lawsuit, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, contends that the Postal Service unlawfully implemented widespread changes to mail service nationwide, the attorneys general said. 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.
It alleges 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.
Before DeJoy’s announcement, Lynch gathered with mask-wearing union members outside a Postal Service processing center in Boston and called on DeJoy to rescind orders that could hamper the delivery of mail.
“Remember, when everybody else was staying home, they were being asked to deliver the mail to every home in America, every single day,” Lynch said. “These are front-line workers protecting our rights. And it’s never been more important to stand by them than it is right now.”
In Lynn, Moulton rallied with several state lawmakers outside a post office. At times talking over shouts from a Republican running for his seat, Moulton paraphrased the Postal Service’s famous creed, which states that neither the elements “nor gloom of night” will stop its work.
”What we forgot about was a fascist president and his campaign donor cronies shutting off mail machines, putting people out of work, and explicitly saying that he will stop Americans from voting by shutting down the post office,” Moulton said. ”We are here to preserve the fundamental cornerstone of our democracy.”
Gal Tziperman Lotan and Matt Stout of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press and The New York Times was also used.