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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Murphy reframes USPS delays as public health crisis

Governor warns mail delays could deprive seniors of prescribed medications

By Nikita Biryukov, August 14 2020 3:43 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy is moving to frame U.S. Postal Service delays as a public health matter as mail delays at the agency continue to grow under new practices implemented by Postmaster Louis DeJoy.

“The politicization of the Postal Service is beyond repugnant. Let’s not play with fire here,” Murphy said. “We rely on the Postal Service for seniors to receive their medicines, so with all due respect to trying to politicize ballots, we rely, as a country, on the Postal Service for a range of things.”

The line is one Democrats across the country have adopted as guidelines put in place by DeJoy, a close ally of President Donald Trump, have delayed USPS mail deliveries by more than a week in some areas of the country.

The conversation around the new practices, which include barring mail carriers from taking overtime to ensure timely delivery and decommissioning of a tenth of the agency’s mail sorting machines, have largely focused on the impact to November’s elections.

Many states, New Jersey included, have turned to mail-in ballots to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at polling stations. Trump has consistently derided the practice, claiming baselessly that it was rife with fraud.

Put simply, an argument about USPS centered on mail-in ballots is likely to draw sharp divisions along party lines, while concerns about more routine deliveries — especially those to seniors and rural Americans — are more likely to bring a bipartisan consensus.

The governor said he and his administration have been in near constant contact with the agency since before last month’s primaries, and he has a call scheduled with the agency sometime next week.

Regardless of the charged climate around the Postal Service, Murphy said he believed the issue wouldn’t persist through election day.

“Let’s cut the politics out of this. Let’s get the national debate into a healthy place. Let’s make sure they’re properly funded,” he said. “I’m confident the postal service nonsense will be depoliticized.”

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