U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall describes Postal Service controversy as ‘so-called crisis’

The Kansas congressional delegation has mixed feelings about the Trump administrations now-suspended effort to cut costs at the United States Post Office in ways that could jeopardize timely delivery of mail and complicate voting in the November election. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
The Kansas congressional delegation has mixed feelings about the Trump administrations now-suspended effort to cut costs at the United States Post Office in ways that could jeopardize timely delivery of mail and complicate voting in the November election. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

LAWRENCE — U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall says Democrats and news outlets deliberately aroused public fear by denouncing the Trump administration’s now-suspended changes to the United States Post Service that raised questions about delivery of millions of ballots by mail in November.

Marshall, who represents the largely rural 1st District in Congress, referred to the USPS controversy as a “so-called crisis.” He is the Republican Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate.

“I’m glad to see President Trump’s administration put an end to the fearmongering by Democrats and the media by choosing to suspend what have been long-standing operational practices for the sake of ensuring public trust in our electoral process. I am committed to a safe election without fraud,” Marshall said.

Democrat Barbara Bollier, a state senator from Johnson County, is Marshall’s opponent in the race to decide who replaces retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. She said the Trump administration’s politicization of the Postal Service was damaging to people across the nation who rely on mail delivery of prescription medications, Social Security checks, advance ballots and other communications.

“Nearly every Kansan relies on the services of the USPS, especially veterans and those living in rural areas,” Bollier said. “Congress must take action and provide additional emergency assistance to the USPS to keep this crucial lifeline alive and strong for the people of Kansas. I will not stand by and watch us lose this critical public service that provides so much for the people of this state.”

Louis DeJoy, the U.S. postmaster general and a major Trump campaign donor, was hired in May. He authorized cost-cutting moves amid the COVID-19 pandemic criticized as an attempt to disenfranchise people voting by mail in the November election. Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting was plagued by fraud.

On Tuesday, DeJoy suspended until after the election changes that included removing blue postal boxes, slashing post office hours and blocking overtime for mail carriers. It’s not clear whether the Postal Service would return mail-sorting equipment that was removed.

The House is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., to consider legislation Saturday related to the financial and operational status of the USPS. DeJoy has been called to testify Friday to a Senate committee and Monday in the House in response to bipartisan objections to his management of the Postal Service.

In a statement, Marshall said he had been a leading supporter of the USPS during his three years in Congress. He described the Postal Service as a critical part of the nation’s communications, health care and business systems. He also said USPS had $14 billion in reserve and could borrow $10 billion from the federal treasury.

“The USPS has been in a dire financial situation for years, losing over $80 billion over the past 14 years, which is why dramatic structural changes are needed to save the USPS,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican who isn’t up for re-election in 2020, said DeJoy had an obligation to work with Congress to put the USPS on firmer financial footing and protect integrity of the Postal Service. Erosion of the ability of USPS to function reliably could have a “crippling impact” on rural communities, Moran said.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said federal lawmakers had a duty to “support our postal workers and strengthen the postal system. Not dismantle it, especially during an unprecedented health crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, the 3rd District Democrat, called for DeJoy’s dismissal as postmaster general. She vowed to support legislation to “protect against the administration’s attacks on our democracy.”

Kali Barnett, the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 1st District seat now served by Marshall, said residents of the Big First should demand an end to “unjustified attacks on the USPS.” She urged voters to return advance ballots as early as possible to make sure their voice was heard Nov. 3.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.