It stands to reason that Republicans don't want to be seen as standing against the U.S. Postal Service. After all, recent polling from the Pew Research Center found that 91% of Americans had a favorable opinion of the Postal Service, making it, in quantifiable terms, the single most popular institution in the United States.
What's more, every time a household or business is frustrated by a delayed delivery -- in an election season -- GOP leaders don't want those Americans thinking, "This is Donald Trump's and his party's fault."
It's against this backdrop that Republicans are scrambling to voice their support for the USPS. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CNBC the other day, "The Postal Service will have the funding that it needs. We will make sure of that." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added yesterday, "The Postal Service is going to be just fine. We're going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected."
Distancing himself from Trump's apparent offensive against the mail service, McConnell reportedly added, "I don't share the concerns that the president ... has mentioned."
For his part, the president tweeted yesterday that he wants to "SAVE THE POST OFFICE" and make it "GREAT AGAIN." Trump went on to tell reporters that his administration hasn't done anything to slow mail delivery.
But as NBC News reported overnight, postal workers are increasingly unreserved in their criticisms of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the Republican donor the president and Senate Republicans put in charge of the USPS two months ago.
In his two months on the job, DeJoy -- a longtime Republican donor and ally of President Donald Trump's who held no positions in the Postal Service before his appointment -- has overseen major operational changes that he said are aimed at cutting costs and increasing efficiency. Among the changes: elimination of overtime and instructions to postal workers to set out on their routes even if it means mail arriving later is left behind at distribution centers. According to postal workers who spoke with NBC News, the changes have upended the mail delivery system and significantly delayed the delivery of items, including express mail.
This comes on the heels of a nationally televised interview in which Trump effectively admitted to trying to undermine the USPS in order to make it harder for Americans to participate in their own democracy during a pandemic.
As for what's next, a variety of developments are poised to speed up on Capitol Hill. David Williams, a former Postal Service inspector general, is reportedly set to provide House Democrats with a private briefing on Thursday, at which point he'll discuss his resignation as vice chair of the USPS Board of Governors.
NBC News reported that Williams "stepped down amid what he considered President Donald Trump's undue influence over the USPS independent Board of Governors and the process of selecting the new postmaster general."
On Friday, DeJoy is reportedly now scheduled to testify at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing -- an unexpected development given the fact that the upper chamber was supposed to be off until after Labor Day. The postmaster general and USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan are also set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-led House is now planning to vote on Saturday morning "on a bill that would include $25 billion in new funding for the U.S. Postal Service and reverse changes implemented in recent weeks to mail delivery and operations." It's expected to pass, though it'll be interesting to see how many GOP lawmakers, if any, support the legislation.
In case that weren't quite enough, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) yesterday asked the FBI to investigate whether DeJoy or any USPS official "committed any crimes in light of nationwide delays and issues" with the postal service. (It is a federal crime to willfully obstruct mail delivery.)
And finally, there's Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has sent letters to members of the USPS board of governors, reminding them of their authority to reverse decisions made by the postmaster general.
I have a hunch Trump and DeJoy didn't see any of this coming when they started implementing their so-called "reforms" in recent weeks.