WASHINGTON – Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz, and Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case (all D-Hawaii) wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Sept. 3 requesting he immediately reverse changes that have led to service delays for Hawaii mail, and suspend further changes to U.S. Postal Service (USPS) operations until there is no longer a nationally declared public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following DeJoy’s recent appearances before two congressional committees, Hawaii’s congressional delegation called attention to the widespread delays that communities across the country face, citing concerns raised by Hawaii residents about timely deliveries of essential mail, and alarm at the postmaster general’s confirmation that he is considering price increases for service in Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. territories.
The letter emphasized that as an island state, Hawaii is dependent on the USPS for prompt, reliable deliveries of food, medicines, and other goods, and residents lack the option to drive to another state for these services.
“We are especially alarmed that proposed additional changes may increase mail delivery costs for Hawaii in particular,” the lawmakers wrote. “We request that you eliminate the service delays, reverse previous changes that have contributed to these delays, and suspend implementation of further changes to USPS operations until we no longer have a nationally declared public health emergency due to COVID-19.”
The lawmakers continued, “These service delays have the potential of affecting the 120,000 veterans in Hawaii, especially the 50,000 who receive their medication through the mail from the Veteran’s Health Administration. Hawaii’s small business owners, who have already been impacted by COVID-19 are now having to work around delayed supplies or deal with late deliveries to customers.
“We have also heard from several constituents who were not able to cast their ballot and vote in Hawaii’s primary election on Aug. 8, 2020, as some ballots took weeks to reach the voter or did not arrive at all.”