Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded the passage of the Postal Service Reform Act, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the United States Postal Service (USPS) by setting standards and increasing transparency within the USPS. This legislation comes as residents in Charlottesville, and throughout the Commonwealth, continue to experience severe delays in mail delivery.

“This legislation is a strong first step towards improving the costly and unacceptable delays within the United States Postal Service,” Sen. Warner said. “The USPS provides essential services to Americans across the country, and it is crucial that we maintain a healthy and solvent USPS moving forward. I am proud to support this bill, which will increase transparency and work to address the widespread delays experienced by Virginians.” 

The Postal Service Reform Act includes multiple provisions that will: 

  • Eliminate the aggressive prefunding requirement that has hurt the Postal Service financially, and integrate postal worker retirees’ health care with Medicare. Together, these two reforms would create over $49 billion in savings for the Postal Service over the next ten years. 
  • Require the Postal Service to maintain its standard of delivering at least six days a week.
  • Improve transparency of Postal Service operations to both customers and Congress by requiring the publication of easily accessible weekly service data on the Postal Service website, as well as issuing a detailed report to Congress every six months on Postal Service finances and operations.

Sen. Warner has been an active and vocal proponent of addressing the mail delay problems affecting Virginians all across the Commonwealth. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with families increasingly relying on USPS, Sen. Warner raised concerns regarding the operational and structural changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and their impact on timely mail delivery. In February 2021, after hearing from hundreds of Virginians, Sen. Warner urged U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy to rescind the harmful policy changes delaying mail delivery. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Warner pressed DeJoy for answers on measures to restore on-time mail delivery, and called on congressional leaders to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors.

During August and November visits to Charlottesville, Sen. Warner has continued to push for a long-term solution and increased communication from USPS.     

Sen. Warner has long been an advocate for postal reform. In 2015, he cosponsored the Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency (iPost) Act  that aimed to improve service of the USPS through a series of new standards.  

Full text of the Postal Service Reform Act is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to the Virginia District Manager of the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging him to address the widespread delivery delays across Virginia in recent months. In their letter, the Senators called on Virginia District Manager Gerald Roane to create additional contingency plans to address existing staff shortages and capacity challenges and ensure that Virginians do not miss mail deliveries for days or weeks at a time.

We write to share great concern regarding the continued widespread delivery delays across Virginia in the recent months. We have heard from hundreds of constituents, specifically in the Central Virginia region, who have shared stories about severe delivery delays adversely impacting their lives. Additionally, we continue to seek answers about staffing shortages and other circumstances that have led to such delays and actions that are being taken to prevent future issues,” the Senators wrote to Virginia District Manager Gerald Roane.

In their letter, Sens. Warner and Kaine cite the concerns of one Charlottesville resident, who shared that she has not had a mail carrier assigned to her delivery route since January, leaving her “virtually no first class mail delivery” for more than eight monthsThe same constituent shared that she is missing bills and tax documents, among other things, due to this lack of postal service.

This troubling decline in on-time mail is causing constraints to many Virginians who are now receiving unexpected late fees due to delayed payments, missed paychecks, late prescriptions on critical medications, and much more,” they continued. “Deborah’s story is among countless others that we have received. Additionally, despite numerous requests, USPS officials have not provided relevant and updated data and mail delivery times. However, the outpour of constituent outreach demonstrates the substantial decline in on-time delivery in recent months and the devastating impact that it has had on millions of Americans. We urge you to review and implement processes to fill vacant postal positions and expedite the delivery of mail.”

In February, the Senators pressed U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on continued widespread mail service delays throughout the Commonwealth. 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about reversing any changes to USPS that have affected the reliability of mail delivery. In August 2020, they joined their colleagues in a letter asking  Postmaster General DeJoy not to take any further action that makes it harder and more expensive for states and election jurisdictions to mail ballots ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Additionally, last summer, the Senators raised concerns regarding the operational and structural changes implemented by Postmaster General DeJoy and the impact they would have on timely mail delivery. In response to these concerns, U.S. Postmaster DeJoy temporarily halted some, though not all, of the operational changes planned until after the November 2020 election. 

Full text of the letter is here and below.

Mr. Gerald Roane

Virginia District Manager

United States Postal Service

1801 Brook Road

Richmond, VA 23232

 

Dear Mr. Roane:

We write to share great concern regarding the continued widespread delivery delays across Virginia in the recent months. We have heard from hundreds of constituents, specifically in the Central Virginia region, who have shared stories about severe delivery delays adversely impacting their lives. Additionally, we continue to seek answers about staffing shortages and other circumstances that have led to such delays and actions that are being taken to prevent future issues. 

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has played a critical role in keeping Virginians connected and safe. Whether it is the delivery of groceries, household necessities, or medications, countless Virginians continue to depend on USPS as a critical link to vital resources. For this reason, we are deeply troubled to see that timely mail delivery has precipitously continued to decline in Virginia.

While we seek a general explanation of the factors contributing to substandard delivery rates, we specifically seek explanations with respect to two primary issues raised by our constituents:

1.      USPS government liaisons have cited temporary staff shortages and capacity challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic as contributing factors to recent delays. Constituents have shared stories about USPS’s inability to replace postal carriers who are temporarily out due to illness, injury, or on leave.[1] Insufficient staffing has had profound impacts on our constituents.

2.      Many of our constituents in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and surrounding jurisdictions are reporting that they are not receiving any mail for days or weeks at a time.[2]

We understand that many of these challenges could be due to staffing shortages, but implore you to create additional contingency plans to ensure that delivery routes do not miss mail deliveries for days at a time because a letter carrier is out.

This troubling decline in on-time mail is causing constraints to many Virginians who are now receiving unexpected late fees due to delayed payments, missed paychecks, late prescriptions on critical medications, and much more.[3] Specifically, I would like to direct your attention to one of our constituents, Deborah from Charlottesville, who recounts her firsthand frustration with recent USPS service.

Deborah shares that, “In addition to the nationwide problems with mail and the post office, those of us living in … Charlottesville, Virginia, have a special, additional difficulty hinging on the failure … to assign a mail carrier to our route. The person assigned our route went on maternity leave, as I understand it, in October, 2020, and as this is a new year, her additional 12 weeks maternity leave means she will stay off until approximately April 2021. During 2020, we had a wonderful substitute … But, starting in January, it seems we have had no person assigned this route. Hence, starting in January, we have had virtually no first class mail delivery … I personally have received none of my “informed delivery”, [and] have received in the last few weeks a total of approximately 5 pieces of first class mail, though I would normally get at least 3-5 times that much. Two of the 5 pieces were received on Friday January 29, but had been mailed Dec 28, and Jan 4. There are important items I need which cannot be emailed, and which have been remailed due to the apparent loss, and neither mailing has been received. I am also missing bills, tax documents and who know[s] what else. The rest of the community is in the same boat. Most urgently, I was contacted last night by an elderly neighbor who is desperate because she and her husband are not getting their pension checks. She visits the local P.O. regularly, she told me, pleading for her mail, but she says no one seems to care…” 

Deborah’s story is among countless others that we have received. Additionally, despite numerous requests, USPS officials have not provided relevant and updated data and mail delivery times. However, the outpour of constituent outreach demonstrates the substantial decline in on-time delivery in recent months and the devastating impact that it has had on millions of Americans. We urge you to review and implement processes to fill vacant postal positions and expedite the delivery of mail. 

Americans depend on the Postal Service for high-quality, reliable service, especially during the extraordinarily difficult times that they have experienced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

To that end, we ask that you answer the following questions by September 3, 2021: 

1.      To what does USPS attribute the rapid decline in on-time delivery rates of mail in the Charlottesville region? 

2.      Since December 2020, has USPS pursued any changes to remedy these drastic delays in mail and significant personnel shortages needed to meet the demand in mail? Please describe, in detail, if there were any efforts to surge resources and staffing in Charlottesville.

3.      Please describe, in detail, the steps you have taken to respond to customers who have been harmed by these mail delays. Has USPS pursued initiatives to locate packages and mail that are significantly delayed (more than two weeks beyond expected delivery) and to expedite their processing and delivery? 

4.      Please provide monthly staffing numbers for postal carriers and mail handlers in all of the USPS offices in Charlottesville, Virginia since December 2020. How many postal carrier positions are currently vacant? How many positions need to be filled to meet capacity needs and ensure that the mail delivery division is properly staffed?

5.      Please share any data that you have on the delivery rates of mail-order medications in Charlottesville and the Virginia district. What action has USPS taken and does it plan to take to prioritize mail-order medications in light of mounting mail delays? 

6.      Please share any data on mail delivery performance in Charlottesville and the Virginia district.  

Thank you for your attention. We look forward to working with the United States Postal Service during the 117th Congress to ensure that it remains a working institution for all Americans.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner issued a statement after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy released a ten-year strategic plan for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that would raise postage rates, slow some mail service, and reduce post office hours:

“I have heard from too many Virginians who are understandably upset with the poor mail service they have experienced in recent months. Louis DeJoy’s failures as Postmaster General are apparent to anyone who has been forced to wait weeks, sometimes months, for birthday cards, bills, or medications to arrive. I recognize that USPS has serious financial and logistical challenges ahead, but the least we owe the American people is a full USPS Board to review DeJoy’s new 10-year plan for the Postal Service. The Senate should confirm President Biden’s nominees as soon as possible.”

Last week, Sen. Warner along with Sen. Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to congressional leaders urging speedy confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors that oversees the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), citing the need for strict oversight over DeJoy’s ten-year plan. 

Sen. Warner has been vocal about reversing USPS operational changes that have affected the reliability of mail delivery. On Feb 1., Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to DeJoy, calling on him to rescind policy changes that are delaying mail delivery including life-saving medicines, groceries, supplies, and more in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also last month, Sen. Warner joined 34 of his Democratic colleagues in pressing DeJoy on persistent mail delays and what action he is taking to restore on-time mail delivery. He earlier joined colleagues in calling on DeJoy to testify before Congress and provide clear, transparent answers on service delays that have caused seniors and veterans to miss their prescription medications, small businesses to lose money and customers over delayed packages, and other serious disruptions that affect communities across the country who count on the Postal Service for timely delivery. Additionally, Sen. Warner previously raised concerns over the USPS operational changes and the heightened impact to servicemembers and their families and pushed to correct the changes that are needlessly delaying veterans’ access to life-saving prescriptions.  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) urged congressional leaders to quickly confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees to oversee the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which has experienced unacceptable delays under the current Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. Once Biden’s nominees to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors are confirmed, they can provide strict oversight over DeJoy’s ten-year strategic plan for postal operations, which has not yet been publicly released, but is expected to call for higher postage rates and further slowing of mail deliveries, according to media reports and recent congressional testimony. 

“We write to express our support for President Joe Biden’s nominees to serve on the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and to call for their immediate consideration before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the full Senate. The President’s nominees – Mr. Ron Stroman, Mr. Anton Hajjar, and Ms. Amber McReynolds – represent experienced, thoughtful experts on the Postal Service who will help to guide USPS through its current financial and logistical challenges. Acting with all possible speed to expedite their confirmations is critical as the Board of Governors will soon review Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year strategic plan,” said the Senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Gary Peters (D-MI). “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have once again seen the critical role of USPS in connecting our communities, and yet unacceptable mail delays have occurred due in part to ineffective leadership. Whether it is manifest in the delivery of birthday and Christmas cards or stimulus checks and medications, service levels have fallen to unacceptable levels. It is crucial that the Senate quickly move to confirm President Biden’s nominees to bring renewed focus on the vital, public service that USPS provides and ensure that mail delivery improves to the standards Americans have come to expect for generations.” 

“Despite historic delays in recent months, the Postmaster General has indicated he plans to announce a new strategic plan in the coming weeks that would cut service standards and raise prices. From what we understand, Mr. DeJoy’s plan seems tailored towards codifying the very delays which have deeply frustrated so many Americans today,” the Senators added in today’s letter. 

The Senators noted that Virginia customers are already experiencing among the worst mail delays in the nation. In December 2020, first-class mail on-time delivery rates averaged just 52.4% in the Northern Virginia Postal District, 55.1% in the Richmond Postal District, and 67.0% in the Appalachian Postal District. In their letter, the Senators noted that they have heard from thousands of Virginians with complaints about mail delivery, and shared some of those complaints as they urged the Senate to move quickly to confirm Biden’s nominees:

“My parents (who are older, on fixed income, and aren’t comfortable with many online options) got fined by their mortgage company and car loan lender for lateness (they’d never been late prior) when their payments did not arrive on time but were mailed as normal. My dad, who as a Medicare enrollee, is now required to use a mail-order pharmacy for his life-sustaining blood thinning medication, is now having to ration his pills to make sure he doesn’t run out entirely because his three-month supply has not yet come…This is a life or death problem.” – Michelle, Fredericksburg, VA

“I use USPS to mail small packages for my business, 3-5 [times] per week. I always pay extra for USPS Priority Mail…because it is supposed to get to its destination in 2-3 days. Since November, only a few have arrived on time and the rest have taken between 7 and 18 days to arrive. In the final two weeks before Christmas, I had to shift to UPS which not only cost more but also came out of my own pocket because I provide free shipping as a service to my customers. Mine is a small business and I can’t afford the additional expense of alternate shipping methods. Even though my business is small, it puts food on the table for my family because my husband’s salary has been cut in half due to Covid. I cannot afford to anger or alienate my customers who expect prompt delivery. I would like to say that things have gotten better since Christmas, but they haven’t.” – Patricia, Charlottesville, VA

“I ordered and paid for 2-3 day priority mail on a shipment of medicine for my pet, rather than choosing the free shipping in standard mail that I could have received, because it said it could take 5-7 business days in standard mail; I needed the medicine within 7 business days but I didn’t want to take a chance on it being late. It was shipped from California on Feb 15th. As of this morning, February 24th, I still have not received it.” – Ben, Fairfax, VA

“Our neighborhood has not received mail at least one day a week (entire neighborhood). Bills are so late when I receive them they are past due. This has resulted in late fees on my accounts.” – Marcia, Norfolk, VA

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about reversing USPS operational changes that have affected the reliability of mail delivery. On Feb 1., the Senators sent a letter to DeJoy, calling on him to rescind policy changes that are delaying mail delivery including life-saving medicines, groceries, supplies, and more in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also last month, they joined 33 of their Democratic colleagues in pressing DeJoy on persistent mail delays and what action he is taking to restore on-time mail delivery. They earlier joined their colleagues in calling on DeJoy to testify before Congress and provide clear, transparent answers on service delays that have caused seniors and veterans to miss their prescription medications, small businesses to lose money and customers over delayed packages, and other serious disruptions that affect communities across the country who count on the Postal Service for timely delivery. Additionally, Sen. Warner previously raised concerns over the USPS operational changes and the heightened impact to servicemembers and their families and pushed to correct the changes that are needlessly delaying veterans’ access to life-saving prescriptions. 

A copy of the letter is available here and the full text appears below:

Dear Leader Schumer and Chairman Peters:

We write to express our support for President Joe Biden’s nominees to serve on the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and to call for their immediate consideration before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the full Senate. The President’s nominees - Mr. Ron Stroman, Mr. Anton Hajjar, and Ms. Amber McReynolds - represent experienced, thoughtful experts on the Postal Service who will help to guide USPS through its current financial and logistical challenges. Acting with all possible speed to expedite their confirmations is critical as the Board of Governors will soon review Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year strategic plan. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have once again seen the critical role of USPS in connecting our communities, and yet unacceptable mail delays have occurred due in part to ineffective leadership. Whether it is manifest in the delivery of birthday and Christmas cards or stimulus checks and medications, service levels have fallen to unacceptable levels. It is crucial that the Senate quickly move to confirm President Biden’s nominees to bring renewed focus on the vital, public service that USPS provides and ensure that mail delivery improves to the standards Americans have come to expect for generations.

Virginia customers have experienced among the worst delays in the nation. In December 2020, first-class mail on-time delivery rates averaged just 52.4% in the Northern Virginia Postal District, 55.1% in the Richmond Postal District, and 67.0% in the Appalachian Postal District. These rates represent drastic declines relative to baselines in on-time delivery from March 14, 2020 – July 11, 2020, the period between the onset of COVID-19-related impacts and the announcement of Postmaster General DeJoy’s operational changes. The on-time delivery rates of first-class mail in this time frame were 90.9% in the Northern Virginia Postal District, 90.3% in the Richmond Postal District, and 93.8% in the Appalachian Postal District.  But this service decline represents more than an abstract statistic, it represents real-world harm to thousands of our constituents. To that end, thousands of Virginians have shared their frustrations with us in recent weeks. Here are but a snapshot of our constituent’s stories to demonstrate the consequences of the failures of Postmaster General DeJoy:

“My parents (who are older, on fixed income, and aren’t comfortable with many online options) got fined by their mortgage company and car loan lender for lateness (they’d never been late prior) when their payments did not arrive on time but were mailed as normal. My dad, who as a Medicare enrollee, is now required to use a mail-order pharmacy for his life-sustaining blood thinning medication, is now having to ration his pills to make sure he doesn’t run out entirely because his three-month supply has not yet come…This is a life or death problem.” – Michelle, Fredericksburg, VA

“I use USPS to mail small packages for my business, 3-5 [times] per week. I always pay extra for USPS Priority Mail…because it is supposed to get to its destination in 2-3 days. Since November, only a few have arrived on time and the rest have taken between 7 and 18 days to arrive. In the final two weeks before Christmas, I had to shift to UPS which not only cost more but also came out of my own pocket because I provide free shipping as a service to my customers. Mine is a small business and I can’t afford the additional expense of alternate shipping methods. Even though my business is small, it puts food on the table for my family because my husband’s salary has been cut in half due to Covid. I cannot afford to anger or alienate my customers who expect prompt delivery. I would like to say that things have gotten better since Christmas, but they haven’t.” – Patricia, Charlottesville, VA

“I ordered and paid for 2-3 day priority mail on a shipment of medicine for my pet, rather than choosing the free shipping in standard mail that I could have received, because it said it could take 5-7 business days in standard mail; I needed the medicine within 7 business days but I didn’t want to take a chance on it being late. It was shipped from California on Feb 15th. As of this morning, February 24th, I still have not received it.” – Ben, Fairfax, VA

“Our neighborhood has not received mail at least one day a week (entire neighborhood). Bills are so late when I receive them they are past due. This has resulted in late fees on my accounts.” – Marcia, Norfolk, VA

Despite historic delays in recent months, the Postmaster General has indicated he plans to announce a new strategic plan in the coming weeks that would cut service standards and raise prices. From what we understand, Mr. DeJoy’s plan seems tailored towards codifying the very delays which have deeply frustrated so many Americans today. In his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Mr. DeJoy said he was “evaluating all service standards” and public reporting indicates this includes eliminating two-day delivery for local, first-class mail and eliminating all mail transport for first-class mail.  The American people deserve a full Board to consider the proposed plans to ensure that the unacceptable delays in the delivery of bills, medicine, and letters do not persist. Of particular importance in consideration of the strategic plan is the input of postal workers and unions who would be well represented by Mr. Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general, and Mr. Hajjar, formerly general counsel for the American Postal Workers’ Union, if they are confirmed.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

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