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Local congressional candidates all back more funding for Postal Service during COVID-19 pandemic

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August 23, 2020, 9:04 am

With mail delivery slowing during the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. House on Saturday passed a bill first proposed by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse in March to inject $25 billion into the U.S. Postal Service to ensure on-time deliveries and provide workers with personal protective equipment.

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse

Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, represents Vail and the eastern third of Eagle County in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. He’s been a critic of President Donald Trump and his administration’s efforts to undermine the USPS by limiting overtime and removing mail-sorting machines. A growing number of Americans are looking to mail-in voting in the pandemic.

“The U.S. Postal Service is a pillar of our democracy, enshrined in the Constitution and essential for providing critical services to all Americans. Now more than ever as our nation faces the once-in-a-century health and economic crisis of COVID-19, millions of Coloradans are relying on USPS for the delivery of prescription medications, Social Security payments, paychecks, Census forms, and ballots, including in the rural and remote areas of our state,” Neguse said in a press release after bipartisan passage of the Delivering for America Act.

There were more than 800 demonstrations at post office locations around the United States on Saturday, including one at the post office in Edwards. USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy – a major Trump campaign donor who only recently was appointed to his new position — has backed off making any more policy changes ahead of the Nov. 3 general election and told a Senate committee ballots will be prioritized. He will testify before the House on Monday.

“The President’s blatant sabotage of USPS is a threat to lives, livelihoods and our American democracy, and we will not stand for it,” Neguse added. “I’m proud to help pass the Delivering for America Acttoday which will provide $25 billion in much-needed emergency relief for USPS —something I proposed back in March — and stop dangerous operational changes that both undermine our democracy and the safety of Coloradans.”

In fact, Trump’s own board of governors at the USPS had recommended the $25 billion in additional funding, but Trump continues to falsely claim mail-in voting is rife with fraud despite personally voting by mail in Florida.

Colorado has safely conducted mail-in elections since 2013, and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, has joined 13 other states in suing to challenge the “drastic changes” at the USPS as “these delays are likely to affect Colorado’s all-mail elections and the constitutional right to vote for the state’s 3.5 million active registered voters.”

Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien last week told RealVail.com that local postmasters assured her that operational changes would not impact mail-in voting, but she also offered a number of steps local voters should take to make sure their ballots are counted.

While several House Republicans voted for Saturday’s USPS-funding bill, it is not expected to see the light of day in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Trump loyalist and Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell has said the USPS will “be just fine.”

In the congressional battle to represent the rest of Eagle County – the western two-thirds in lame-duck U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s 3rd Congressional District – there seems to be bipartisan support for fully funding the mostly rural post office operations in the sprawling 29-county district.

Lauren Boebert

“So she’s been on record saying that the post office should be funded; this was well before this latest discussion,” said Laura Carno, campaign spokeswoman for Lauren Boebert, a Republican Rifle restaurant owner who stunned five-term incumbent Tipton in the June 30 primary and faces former Democratic Eagle and Routt County state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush in the Nov. 3 election.

“We need to be funding the Postal Service and making sure that there are not deliberate attempts to slow down the mail,” said Mitsch Bush spokeswoman Ashley Quenneville. “It’s a lifeline, and it’s not just ballots. It’s medications, medications for our veterans, medications for our seniors. There are a lot of things, and the Postal Service is an equal opportunity way of communicating and getting these vital services to rural areas.

“Lauren’s voted absentee in every single election that we have data for that I can see, so if she’s concerned about election security, why is she casting her ballot absentee?” Quenneville added.

State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs.
Diane Mitsch Bush

In fact, Carno says Boebert, an ardent Trump supporter, is more concerned about mail-in voting elsewhere in the United States.

“One thing to keep in mind is that in Colorado we’ve been doing this for a while,” Carno said. “We’re not doing it in a last-minute reaction to something. I think a lot of people in Colorado have a significant amount more confidence in what goes on in Colorado with mail ballots than if some other random state that’s never done it before just all of a sudden … decides we’re going to do it without the proper safeguards.

“What matters is the integrity of every ballot regardless of the manner in which it’s cast, whether it’s traditional or mail, and that we have a significant amount more faith in the process that was done in a very thorough and thoughtful process as opposed to something that’s being rush at the last second,” Carno added.

There are no statements regarding to the Postal Service funding debate on either the Facebook or Twitter pages of Neguse opponent and CD2 Republican candidate Dr. Charlie Winn of Boulder, who has retweeted some of Boebert’s tweets. Winn’s campaign has not responded to email requests from RealVail.com seeking comment.

According to the Neguse press release, here are the key elements of Saturday’s bill, which he says will:

  • Prohibit the Postal Service from implementing or approving any changes to the operations or service levels in effect on January 1, 2020, that would impede prompt, reliable, and efficient service. The prohibition remains in effect during the duration of the coronavirus public health emergency or January 2021, whichever is later;
  • Require the Postal Service to treat all election mail as first-class mail; and
  • Provide $25 billion in critically-needed emergency appropriations for the Postal Service — the level of funding recommended by the USPS Board of Governors, which is composed of 100 percent Trump appointees.
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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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