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The United States Postal Service blamed the Democratic Congress’s COVID-19 stimulus bill for delayed and undelivered mail.
Washington, D.C., congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.) wrote to the USPS this month to communicate her constituents’ complaints about mail delivery problems. A postal service administrator responded last week, telling Norton that the American Rescue Plan Act, which Democrats passed in March, is to blame for staff shortages that have contributed to the agency’s ineffectiveness.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased employee absences and reduced employee availability, which continue to impact our delivery operations,” executive postmaster Sherry Harper wrote. “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides postal employees with up to 600 hours of Emergency Federal Employee Leave in response to the ongoing pandemic. Congress enacted the law with the understandable consequence that employee availability would be affected, particularly for federal agencies.”
The Democratic-controlled House and Senate passed the $1.9 trillion bill on a party-line vote. President Joe Biden championed a provision of the act that offers emergency paid leave to federal workers, which the USPS identified as the cause of its period of “high employee absences.”
Consumers in recent months have complained of major USPS delivery delays all across the country, including in central Pennsylvania, Houston, and Baltimore. In D.C., city lawmakers and residents have protested the “critical failure” of the postal service. Residents have reported that vital mail such as medicine, bills, and legal correspondence take months to arrive or go missing.
Harper said the USPS has authorized “high levels of overtime,” transferred postal workers to overburdened offices, and recruited heavily to fill vacant positions in an effort to mitigate its disfunction in D.C.