House passes USPS bill, Rep. Jacobs says his vote was a mistake

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WASHINGTON (WIVB-TV) – In a rare Saturday session, the House passed the “Delivering for America” bill, which is aimed at course-correcting service cuts within the United States Postal Service and giving it $25 billion dollars in relief funding.

The vote comes amid frustration over mail delivery delays and concerns about what that would mean for the November election. This bill would roll back the many cutbacks that have slowed down mail delivery. It had some Republican support, including Southern Tier Congressman Tom Reed.

“Today, we voted in favor of the USPS legislation because I believe a healthy, functioning Post Office is critical to our nation’s wellbeing,” said Rep. Reed (R-Corning). “With more federal support and additional coordination with Postmaster General DeJoy, the issues delaying mail, medication, and bill deliveries can be addressed immediately. As a long-time supporter of the Post Office, we will continue to advocate for solutions that improve the financial integrity of the USPS (like the USPS Fairness Act) and work to protect our communities’ access to reliable mail services.”

But in his first major vote since being elected to Congress, Chris Jacobs voted against it, apparently by accident. In a statement to News 4, he says it was an error on his part and will correct the Congressional record.

Some worry the bills’ passage won’t mean much as the Senate is expected not to take up the legislation, but Congressman Brian Higgins says pressure is mounting.

“Over 80% of the American people support the USPS services. Veterans, seniors, and small businesses are highly dependent on the USPS. So my hope is that the American people will put pressure on the Senate to do something,” Higgins (D-Buffalo) said.

Higgins spoke on the House floor in support of the legislation, which he is cosponsoring, saying in part, “for 228 years the United States Postal Service has delivered for the American people. It’s an institution built on trust. Trust that the United States military veterans will receive their prescriptions each and every month. Trust that Social Security recipients will receive their checks each and every month. Trust that small businesses can manage and grow with the assistance the United States Postal Service. Today, the trust and confidence of the United States Postal Service is under attack by the very Administration and Postmaster General who should be protecting the time-honored tradition of that institution. This House will approve today the delivering for American Act; an Act to protect the United States Postal Service from the destructive acts of the President and his Postmaster disaster.”

The vote comes just a day after postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before Congress that the postal service can deliver election mail on time, despite acknowledging some current shortcomings.

“Our production processing within the plants was not fully aligned with this established schedule. So we had some delays in the mail. Our recovery process in this should have been a few days, but it’s mounted to be a few weeks,” DeJoy said.

Among the changes, the equipment has been reduced at mail distribution centers all across the country.

On Friday, News 4 got a tip that some of the local sorting machines were in an East Side scrap yard.
We were there to see for ourselves some partially disassembled mail sorting machines. These changes come as local union postal workers and letter carriers worry long-term about their jobs.

“Every time one of those machines is ripped out, is a job is lost. A middle-class job is lost,” one union worker said at a rally Friday.

About an hour before tonight’s vote passed, the President called this measure a “democratic hoax,” claiming universal mail-in voting is a scam without offering any proof.

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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