TRANSCRIPT: On CNN’s New Day, Schumer Discusses Efforts To Hold Postmaster General DeJoy Accountable For Changes That Have Delayed Postal Services Impacting Veterans, Seniors, And Small Businesses

August 18, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today joined CNN’s New Day and discussed Senate Democrats’ efforts to demand Postmaster General DeJoy to reverse course on operational changes in the Postal Service and hold him accountable for the slowdown in benefits, medicine, food, paychecks, ballots, and other services to the American people. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

John Berman:  Your day job is the Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate. On the House side, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back to address the issue surrounding the Postal Service. What do you want to see happen in the Senate?

Sen. Schumer: Well, look, the Senate—if the House passes a bill and I expect they will, the Senate should just pass it right away, hopefully by unanimous consent. Get everyone on board. We have to. The Post Office is one huge mess. I met this man, Mr. DeJoy. He wouldn't meet with me. I called him three times, he wouldn't meet with me. So at our negotiations, Nancy and I, with Mnuchin and Meadows, said we don't want to go forward on this. Postal is one of the big issues. Have him come in here. It was clear to me that his goal was to dismantle the Post Office, brick by brick. That the concerns of, especially during COVID when you need the Post Office more than ever, elderly people can't go to the pharmacy. They depend on the mail for their medicines. Today I’ll be in Long Island talking about veterans. Our veterans get 80, 90 percent of their stuff—their drugs—through the mail. And to have these things delayed, all these special things delayed, and at the same time to sort of try to make the Post Office dysfunction so the elections will be dysfunctional, that's despicable. So we’re going to do everything we can. There are a variety of ways—one is legislation. But there are others as well. The Postal Board, Elizabeth Warren and I wrote to the Postal Board and they could undo what DeJoy has done. And there's a lot of pressure even on President Trump when veterans say they need help. Maybe they’ll get him to change it. I doubt it. But you’ve got to try every angle because this is so important to people’s health during COVID and to fair elections.

John Berman: I get the concerns over cutting back on overtime, reducing the routes that the delivery people can run and we are hearing from around the country that has caused some delays. But there are other aspects of what the Postal Service has done, which I'm not sure why they are as controversial. Right? The Postal Service sent this letter out to the states, telling them, you have got to get your mail-in votes early. I want to read to you what they said versus what Michelle Obama said last night about this. The U.S. Postal Service said, “Voters should submit their ballot requests early enough so that it is received by their election officials at least 15 days before Election Day at a minimum.” Michelle Obama says, “We’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now tonight and send them back immediately and follow up to make sure they’re received.” That seems to be the same message, roughly speaking. Isn’t that a message you want your voters to get?

Sen. Schumer: Well, of course we want people to mail as early as possible. First of all, some state laws don’t allow it. In many states, there’s a date by which you have to apply for the absentee ballot, then they have to mail it to you, then you have to mail the ballot in. This is all in the context of the mail being much slower. If the Post Office had said we're going to treat it all as first class mail, what they said would not be objectionable. The big objection is that they have not said, and we would require them in the legislation that's a introduced in the House and the Senate, to actually say this should be treated as first class mail. I was yesterday with postal workers in upstate New York. They told me what's happening, they told me how much more slow the mail is. They told me their machines—their actual machines that sort the mail—are being dismantled at this moment, at the height of COVID.

John Berman: Some already happened. Our information is that those have already been dismantled at this point and we have received reports from around the country of a slowdown in mail delivery. There’s no question.

Sen. Schumer: That's the issue. The issue is the slowdown.

John Berman: Let me ask you, Mitch McConnell, do you know what he wants to do with this? It’s not totally clear because on the one hand, he says he doesn't see a problem with the Postal Service, and on the other hand, he says he doesn't agree with the president's concerns about, I think, mail-in voting. What do you know about Mitch McConnell’s position?


Sen. Schumer: We know in the skinny bill that the Republicans—Mnuchin and Meadows put forward—there was no postal reform. They had no money to give the Post Office money. And again, these are two crises. It's the elections down the road, but it's right now people needing medicines and other things. When you have COVID and people can't go outside. Look, my dad's 97, World War II vet. He's a veteran. He gets all his stuff in the mail. Now, when I get some pills, but they're not life-threatening type of stuff, it's statins for cholesterol. But when I'm down to two pills and sometimes the mail is late, I get worried. Well, can you imagine if it’s much more vital to you? So the issue here is COVID and the need not to slow down the mail at this point in time—not undo the Post Office. I spoke to postal workers yesterday in Cayuga County, in Chenango County, in Rensselaer County in Upstate New York. And they say it's much slower. And the people in the Post Office don’t want to see this. Even the Postmasters, you know they have been part of this service proudly for years. It's coming from this Mr. DeJoy, let’s admit it, a political appointee, a large contributor to President Trump. And when we met him it was clear that he was hell-bent on destroying the Post Office. Some people think there shouldn't be a Post Office. 91 percent of Americans think there should be a Post Office even during normal times, let alone COVID and elections. 

John Berman: We will hear from Postmaster DeJoy next week before the House. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, thanks very much for being with us. I know tonight is a special night for you, thanks for joining us the morning of.

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