House Democrats said the U.S. Postal Service could be at risk of shutting down operations as soon as June due to the coronavrius outbreak if nothing is done to help. On Monday, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Rep. Gerry Connolly called on the Senate to support the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, which would eliminate USPS' debt and provide $25 billion in emergency appropriation to the agency. It would also give USPS the ability to prioritize medical deliveries over others during the crisis.
"The Postal Service is in need of urgent help as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis," Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, said in a statement. "Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House. Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications. The Postal Service needs America's help, and we must answer this call."
The lawmakers said the Postal Service has seen a "potentially drastic direct effect" on mailings and could end up stopping operations "as early as June." If that happened, the lack of USPS service would have "grave consequences" for the country.
"For example, the Postal Service delivered more than a billion shipments of prescription drugs last year, and that number is expected to grow rapidly as a result of the coronavirus crisis," Connolly and Maloney said. "These negative effects could be even more dire in rural areas, where millions of Americans are sheltering in place and rely on the Postal Service to deliver essential staples."
The Postal Service did get some help in the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the House on Friday, but not quite to the extent Connolly and Maloney were hoping for. According to Politico, the Postal Service received a $10 billion Treasury loan just to keep it out of bankruptcy, but not a direct infusion of funds.
Back on March 22, the USPS released a statement on how it is handling operations during the coronavirus outbreak. The agency said it will follow recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Postal Service is also changing the signature capture procedures so employees can keep a safe distance from others.
"On the employee front, we are sharing the latest information throughout our organization via video, e-mail, internal newsletters, employee conversations and through our Operations and HR functions – and we will continue to do so. We are encouraging healthy behaviors and protocols including frequent hand washing, use of sanitizers, and additional cleaning of work spaces, and are encouraging any employee who feels they are sick to stay home," the statement reads. "We are offering liberal leave and have worked with our postal unions to temporarily expand leave options for our employees."
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images