U.S. mail delivery still facing ‘unacceptable delays’, group of senators says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. mail deliveries are still facing “unacceptable delays” months after the problem first appeared and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy should explain why he has not fixed the issue, according to a group of 33 U.S. senators on Wednesday.

During the week ended Dec. 26, nationwide on-time delivery was 64% for first-class mail and 45% for periodicals, the senators said.

Delays in paychecks and other mail deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) gained attention this summer as a record number of voters mailed in ballots to elect a new president.

DeJoy, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump last year, suspended operational changes in August after enormous criticism over postal delays.

He is set to testify next week before a U.S. House of Representatives committee on the Postal Service’s financial outlook along with will Ron Bloom, a former Obama administration official elected last week as the new chairman of the U.S. Postal Board of Governors.

The 31 Democratic senators and two independent lawmakers, led by Michigan Democrat Gary Peters who chairs the committee overseeing the Postal Service, said “we urge you to be fully transparent with the public about Postal Service operations and the reasons they are still facing delays.”

They cited reports USPS as part of a forthcoming 10-year strategic plan may further slow mail.

DeJoy said Wednesday in a statement the plan aims to fix problems “that are preventing the Postal Service from meeting the American people’s expectations for reliability, and resulting in billions of dollars of losses every year with no end in sight.”

DeJoy came under heavy criticism for making service changes that delayed deliveries and he suspended them in August ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“We must acknowledge that during this peak season, we fell far short of meeting our service targets. Too many Americans were left waiting weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages,” DeJoy said last week, apologizing to customers.

Last week, USPS reported $318 million of income for the quarter ended Dec. 31, delivering a record 1.1 billion holiday season packages, while first-class mail revenue decreased by $177 million.

USPS reported net losses totaling $86.7 billion from 2007 through 2020. One reason is Congress in 2006 passed legislation requiring USPS to pre-fund more than $120 billion in retiree health care and pension liabilities. Labor unions have called this requirement an unfair burden that other businesses do not share.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker

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