Delaware’s senior senator advocates further support for the struggling United States Postal Service during the coronavirus pandemic.
With mail volume down across the country, the U.S. Postal Service is projecting financial shortfalls that may completely cripple the agency by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, its workers are considered essential and continue to deliver and handle mail during the pandemic. John Gibson is President of Local 308 of the National Postal and Mail Handlers Union. He says worker morale has been affected.
“This pandemic is affecting, obviously, healthcare workers that are on the front lines, but we consider ourselves on the front lines as well,” said Gibson. “We provide an essential service to the American people and it’s in desperate, dire need.”
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a long-time advocate for the Postal Service. In 2015 he introduced the Improving Postal Operations, Service and Transparency Act (iPost).
The Postal Service was authorized by Congress for a loan of up to $10 billion in the CARES Act passed late last month, but Carper says that is not enough.
“There’s no quit when it comes to this issue. I’ve been working on this forever, and we’re going to keep staying on it until we get it done,” Carper said. “[The Postal Service] is actually mentioned in our Constitution. It’s too [sic] important for us not to get it right and make sure we can depend on the Postal Service for as long as we are a country.”
Carper is calling for the approved loans to be distributed quickly to the Postal Service. In an email, a spokesperson from Carper’s office says he is also looking to provide “additional funding to help stabilize the institution, provide liquidity to operate, and modernize systems to address coronavirus-related impacts in the long-term.”
“We need to make sure they have access to the money in this crisis,” Carper said. “We also need to make sure some of the reforms that have been recommended by any number of task forces and supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. We need to get those done.”
Carper concedes the Postal Service is not used as much in the digital age but points out it delivers millions of medication prescriptions each year and is relied on by people in remote parts of the country.