08.17.20

Don't Mess With USPS

Hello Folks –

I hope you all are staying safe and taking care of yourselves.

While you get this e-newsletter in your e-mail inbox, I couldn’t help but think that we should start the newsletter today by talking about the other way most Americans get their mail – through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

During this pandemic, USPS employees and mail carriers have stepped up and gone beyond their traditional duties to continue serving their communities. They’ve played a critical role on the front lines, ensuring that people around our region continue to receive essential packages and letters — including medication, food, supplies, ballots, and notes from loved ones.

Unfortunately, recent actions taken by President Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, are undermining our hardworking Postal workers.

The sweeping operational and organizational changes he is instituting have experts concerned – and they’re warning that the changes could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail, and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes by mail in the upcoming November elections.

At any time, but especially just a few months away from the 2020 General Election, these actions by the Postmaster General are unacceptable. We know that the USPS will play a critical role in ensuring that all Americans can safely vote by mail. Despite efforts by the President to cast doubt on the legitimacy of vote-by-mail election systems, here in Washington State we know that voting rights and election integrity are not at cross-purposes. In fact, our Secretary of State has said voting by mail is “secure and trustworthy.” That being said, it does depend on the ability of the Postal Service to do its job.

In addition, just in the past few days, I’ve heard from folks who are already feeling the impacts of these changes. I heard from a small business owner in Port Townsend, whose business relies on USPS. He said that his business has experienced delayed shipments and slowed down delivery. I heard from a veteran in Grays Harbor, who relies on USPS for his prescriptions, who is terrified that there might be a lapse in the coming days. I’ve heard from a senior in Silverdale who said she is only seeing her mail delivered to her mailbox every 2-3 days. And that’s just a tiny sample!

I’m eager to get back to DC later this week to vote on a bill that I’m co-sponsoring – the Delivering for America Act. That bill will prohibit the Postmaster from implementing any operational changes, or changes to any level of service that were in place at the beginning of the year, until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. This legislation will maintain current service standards as well as the integrity of our elections.

But I think there’s more that Congress should do to support USPS. That’s why the House voted to pass the HEROES Act over 3 months ago, which included $25 billion of support for the Postal Service, as well as additional protections and support for postal workers, including funding for the purchase of PPE. Sadly, the Senate has failed to act on this bill – and any other COVID-19 relief measure – for months.

I also believe that we need answers from the Postmaster himself and the head of the Postal Service Board of Governors about these reductions in service and why they’re being implemented right now. That’s why I’m supporting the Chair of the House Oversight Committee’s call for both officials to testify before her Committee next Monday. I’m pleased that they’ve said they will show up.

I’m committed to fighting these changes – to protect the Postal Service and its workers and to protect the American people who depend on the Postal Service’s ability to do its job. Please know that I will continue to work to support the financial integrity and service standards of the USPS and the livelihoods of its dedicated workforce. 

Making Congress Work Better for the American People

Part of my job is standing my ground and standing up for our values and the interest of our district – like protecting the Post Office. But part of my job is working to find common ground even when that can be challenging.

As frequent readers of this newsletter likely know, this Congress I serve as the Chair of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. That committee has an important mission: making Congress work better for the American people. We’ve passed several dozen recommendations with unanimous support from Democrats and Republicans.

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At the end of July, we passed our fourth set of bipartisan recommendations. These recommendations are aimed at helping Congress work more effectively and efficiently for the folks we represent, bringing more certainty to operations, and helping the legislative branch continue operating - even in the midst of a pandemic. The recommendations include things like implementing technology advancements to help streamline casework and help constituents better access federal agencies and resources; and instituting continuity of operations plans so that offices continue functioning for the public even during national emergencies.

I recognize that the work of this committee, as well as other bipartisan efforts focused on improving government accountability and transparency, isn’t exactly what we see on the national news. That being said, since Day One in this job, I’ve been focused on getting government working better for folks back in our neck of the woods. I’m pleased with the progress we are making.

Last week, I joined the Committee Vice Chair Tom Graves, a Republican from Georgia, for a conversation with the Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communications to talk about the work we’re doing to try to foster some civility in Congress. For those of you who are disheartened by the current state of things in Washington, D.C., I hope you’ll find this dialogue refreshing. You can catch the conversation here:

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Helping Workers and Local Employers

I’m working every day to grow jobs and bring more economic opportunities to more people in more places. That’s why I was excited to learn last week that I was awarded the Spirit of Enterprise Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for those efforts – and for trying to solve problems in a bipartisan way.

As we recover from this pandemic, we need to remain laser-focused on supporting our local employers and their employees. I’m committed to doing just that – and ensuring everyone, regardless of where they live, has the opportunity to earn a good living.

That’s why I’ve been working with our local chambers and organizations across our region who are helping workers navigate the substantial economic changes ahead.

For example, last week, I met with the fantastic team from WorkForce Central, the organization committed to coordinating, administering, and advancing the work of the workforce development system in Pierce County. We talked about the important work they are doing to continue providing critical services to our community during this pandemic.

I also got to talk a bit about the Skills Renewal Act, the bipartisan bill I introduced to help anyone who has lost their job as a result of the COVID-19 enroll in apprenticeships, college classes, or retraining programs so they can learn new skills, land new jobs, and earn a good living!

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Then, I joined with the awesome team at the Goodwill of Olympics and Rainier Region’s to talk about their new Digital Work Opportunity Center - which is providing folks across our region with critical workforce development resources and training, support services, and help with personal finances. We spoke both about the resources they are providing and how we can work together to ensure people have the skills they need to be successful in this economy!

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Working for You

Meeting Outstanding Leaders in Our Community

Throughout our region folks are stepping up and asking what they can do to help their communities. Meet Kwabi, founder of The Peace Bus. In recent years, he’s helped provide clothes to the homeless, food to the hungry, and lessons on peace and conflict resolution to local kids. Yesterday, he debuted an awesome new show for kids and - as someone who likes to support folks who are supporting our community – I was thrilled to see it in action!

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Supporting Working Families

I was grateful to spend time last week with Tifhany, Amy, Katie, and Washington Childcare Advocates to discuss the urgent need to provide safe, dependable, and high-quality care for working families. With 60% of child care providers shut down due to COVID-19, we need the Senate to take up the Child Care is Essential Act to help families and providers ensure safe childcare in our communities!

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Helping our Minority-Owned Small Businesses

Our region is lucky to be home to the Minority Business Development Agency-Tacoma Business Center, which works with minority business enterprises. I was glad to meet with them last week to hear about their ongoing work to help their clients navigate this pandemic and emerge stronger than before. Thanks for all that you do!

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OK – that’s it for now folks! Take care of yourselves - and one another.

As always, I’m honored to represent you.

Sincerely,