August 17, 2020

Weekly Column: From The Mailbag--COVID-19 Effects On The Postal Service

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces.  One of the issues Idahoans have contacted me about is the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the United States Postal Service (USPS).  The following is my response:

I share your support for reliable and efficient mail service.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the U.S. and affect all aspects of American life.  The outbreak has infected over 5 million people in the U.S., with confirmed cases in all states.  On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the outbreak a public health emergency for the United States in order to aid the country in responding to COVID-19.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to closely monitor the outbreak of COVID-19.  Congress and the Administration have taken a series of decisive actions to respond to this health and economic crisis.

On April 2, 2020, the USPS released the actions it is taking to protect the safety of its employees and customers while it continues to provide its essential service to all Americans.  The USPS has created a COVID-19 Command Response leadership team and continues to follow the recommendations of the CDC and public health departments.  Among implementing other policies, the USPS is providing millions of masks, gloves and cleaning and sanitizing products for the over 30,000 USPS locations, and has updated cleaning procedures in response to CDC guidance.  For more information on measures the USPS is taking, a link has been provided:

https://about.usps.com/newsroom/statements/usps-statement-on-coronavirus.htm 

Further, H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third phase of legislative efforts to help the United States in its fight against COVID-19, was signed into law on March 27, 2020.  This comprehensive legislation takes a number of bold steps to preserve and protect the economic foundations of our nation and includes a $10 billion Treasury Department loan for the USPS.

Even before the current COVID-19 crisis, USPS has been facing significant financial challenges in recent years in light of declining mail volumes, decreased demand for mail services and high fixed costs.  While USPS continues to implement its own measures to reduce costs and consolidate excess capacity in its distribution system, it is clear that major structural reforms are needed for the organization to return to financial health.

Any reforms to the USPS need to be thoroughly and transparently debated before Congress.  I remain committed to ensuring the USPS remains an organization synonymous with efficiency, reliability and financial responsibility, and am working with my colleagues on policies that achieve that end.  While it is clear that fundamental reforms are necessary to ensure the continued viability of the USPS, such efforts must not negatively affect the needs of the American people, especially during this unprecedented time. 

To access information about some of the important issues of interest, please visit my website, at crapo.senate.gov.  The website also provides information about how to contact me to share your views via email, phone and mailing addresses.  News about recent activities and information about accessing my Facebook and YouTube pages and following me on Twitter can also be found on the website.  Links to legislation and other resources to assist Idahoans who need help with federal agencies can also be accessed on the website.  The messages you send me help to shape my approach on a number of important matters.  Please continue to contact me and share your thoughts and ideas. 

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