Remarks at Press Event on #DontMessWithUSPS Day of Action
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press event in front of a U.S. Post Office in the Bayview neighborhood, highlighting the House’s plans to come back into session this week to save the U.S. Postal Service. Below are the Speaker’s Remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you all, thank you. Let us hear it for Supervisor Shamann [Walton] for his great leadership on this subject, representing District 10, as it indicates on his mask that he is are appropriately wearing. And I thank him. We worked very closely for the children on the anti-vaping initiative. I thank him for his leadership in working with the Mayor on his initiative on police reform and channeling resources into the community that he represents and that we all care so very much about. Thank you Supervisor Walton for you hospitality today and for your ongoing leadership.
And it’s appropriate that you and I should be here at the Post Office, because that’s where we had complaints from our constituents, yours and mine, that we must meet. Because these, as you indicated are a matter, excuse me, are a matter of health, they’re a matter of security, Social Security and the rest. You spelled it out so well. I associate myself with your remarks.
I know that when we’re here today, we’ll be talking about a number of our VIPs, our very important people, the people that are our bosses, the people we serve. And today, we’ll hear about the crisis from some who have seen this first hand. Ophelia Sosa of the National Association of Letter Carriers; Cindy Datangel, from the post – again, the American Postal Workers Union and John Beaumont – there you are. How are you? He used to be my letter carrier, of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
It is – the Supervisor mentioned how important this is and how it’s in the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States calls for the establishment of a Postal Service and Congress’ role in establishing it.
The first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin. How American is that? And guess who else was in the Postal Service? Abraham Lincoln. This is as American as apple pie, motherhood, baseball, you name it. Because it is what has connected our country. We were colonies and the Postal Service helped us become a country.
And they’re trying to undue it. Why? Because they want to interfere with the election. But they’ve been after the Post Office for a while. Why? Because they want to privatize it. They don’t want to have to give workers the respect that they should have. They don’t want to see the beautiful diversity in the workforce there.
And again, nearly 100,000 – 90-some-thousand veterans work in the Postal Service. So, this is central to who we are for all the reasons that the distinguished Supervisor mentioned, about the health, the lives, the livelihood and the life of our democracy, as they try to undo the Postal Service, which is election central when we have the pandemic.
So, I just wanted to share some stories with you. This is – I want to introduce you, because what we’re – this is about is about the people, For The People.
The President – I want to introduce you to Peter and Elaine. The President’s sabotage campaign threatens the lives, again, of our people. For Peter and Elaine, lifelong Californians, these delays are a matter of life and death. Peter, who is nearly 80 and has cancer, relies on the Postal Service to deliver medications that he takes every day, including for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
With their health issues, they can only leave their house for cancer treatments. That’s what they are prescribed. But when Peter ran out of his medication and the Postal Service did not deliver them in time, he had to have them filled at the local pharmacy.
Physically visiting the pharmacy is extremely high-risk – but he has no choice, because of these delays, delays that were implemented on purpose by the Trump Administration.
Next, we’re going to hear from Michael, a veteran – what did you say? I should speak more into the microphone? Okay. They’re telling me that they’re not hearing me.
This is Michael, a veteran with epilepsy, reports that the prescriptions sent by the VA through the mail are now taking twice as long to arrive.
Rita, who lives and works at Alice Griffith affordable housing, is experiencing delays in receiving both her medications and paychecks and has had to have prescriptions filled at the pharmacy, which is not safe for her. You know Rita.
Supervisor Walton. Definitely.
This is Walker, a senior with health issues is now struggling to send his mail, after his closest mailbox was suddenly removed. Have you seen it on TV, the trucks coming up and removing mailboxes? What’s that about? What’s that about?
So, she is not here, but I want to acknowledge Cathy Davis, whom I’ve known for decades.
Supervisor Walton. She is. There she is.
Speaker Pelosi. Oh, she is. Oh, hi, Cathy. Hello darling.
Cathy Davis. Hey, Pelosi. Keep it going. Put that pressure on them.
Speaker Pelosi. Keep it going.
Cathy Davis, who runs the George – who is my dear friend – runs the George W. Davis Senior Residence and Senior Center reports that residents’ mail is being delivered late or, simply, not arriving at all.
So, what are we doing about it? We’ve been fighting them on the Postal Service for a while. But now, with their actions, we have called the Congress back in session to come to vote to fund resources for the Postal Service and not only that, reverse the actions they have taken like picking up mailboxes, ending processing within the Postal Service, the Post Offices.
Today, we are having a Day of Action, at least 60 events across the country, Members joining together to speak out in support of the Postal Service. And then on Saturday, of course, we will have a vote. We don’t want to make it partisan. We want it to be bipartisan. We want everybody to join in For The People.
Now, I am pleased to yield to a very important person, who can speak to this crisis firsthand, Ophelia Sosa of the National Association of Letter Carriers
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Speaker Pelosi. Thank you so much. Now, we are going to hear some questions. I’ll take the easy ones. Supervisor Walton will take the harder ones.
And now, let me just say this. It’s really important to note that we heard from two of our unions, the Letter Carriers and the Postal Workers. Well, there are probably four or five other unions that work in the Postal Service. And one of the reasons that the Administration wants to privatize the Postal Service is they don’t want to have to respect the right of collective bargaining, good jobs, good pay, good benefits, safety in the workplace. And that’s part of their agenda. They don’t want to have it reflect the beautiful diversity of our country either.
So, this is, this is fundamental to us and by the way, again, in our Constitution, founded by Benjamin Franklin. Without the Postal Service we might never have become a country, without the committees of correspondence to communicate. And that’s what Trump wants to undermine.
With that, we’re pleased to take some questions.
Q: Speaker Pelosi, this morning the Postmaster General announced that these changes are going to be pushed back till after the election. Does that take the political aspect out of this and the wind out of your sails in that regard?
Speaker Pelosi. No, I don’t think there ever was a political aspect to this. We wrote a bill that we thought the Republicans should support. Many of my colleagues said, ‘Put this in. Put that in.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to.’ I don’t give them any reason to vote against what we’re here to do, which is to protect the Post Office.
And I don’t, frankly, trust the Postmaster General and what he said. And if he’s sincere about it, it means the bully has backed off. Nonetheless, we’re happy to accept what he says, and that’s exactly what we have in our bill. So, we should not have any problem with our legislation.
But it isn’t just good enough past the election. The need for medical supplies to go out or to get their correspondence, their checks, their Social Security, that will still – that need will still be there after the election. So, all he has done is cried wolf – no, uncle. Uncle he called. Or maybe aunt. Maybe he called aunt.
I have my grandson, Thomas, here, I was telling him this, they’re going to cry uncle, this morning. He wasn’t familiar with that phrase. Hey, Thomas.
Supervisor, did you want to say anything about that?
Supervisor Walton. No, again, I just think what we have here is the executive branch now trying to attack our workers and turn our workers and our community against each other. And he’s doing that through the Postal Service. And so, we have to make sure that we do everything that we can to combat that and fight that.
And yes, I do think that even after the election it’s still important that we have this fight, mindful of our Constitutional right and how important it is to make sure that we protect our mail service.
Q: Speaker, Senator McConnell has made no inclination that he’ll call the Senate back early to address this bill. Your response?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me first say that John Beaumont is here, I’m used to seeing him as a mailman, in Bermuda shorts and a mullet. Now he’s like all – National Association of Letter Carriers, and John – the APWU, is here as well. If they want to respond to any questions or any elaboration that you would make.
I think that the people are speaking. This is like a volcano. They haven’t seen anything like this. They touched a nerve in America, and that nerve is what unites our – those nerves unite our country, families hearing from each other, medicine, twelve – 1.2 billion prescriptions went through the mail in 2019. That was before the coronavirus, 1.2 billion prescriptions, almost 100 percent, say 80-90 percent of the prescriptions from the VA went through the mail. So, if the Senator decides that he’s going to ignore the will of the people, he does so at his peril, to your question before.
We – to your question before – we wrote this bill in a way that would make it easy for them to vote for it. We didn’t put in there that it had to do certain things about the election – you know the money for elections. People wanted that in and we said, no, we’re strictly keeping this on the subject of the Postal System.
So, you know, they’ll say, ‘Oh, well, they lose money.’ They lose money? This is not a business. It is called the Postal Service. And of all the services, it pays for almost all of its costs. And by the way, the law requires the Postal Service. The Postal Service to pay 75 years of health care benefits in ten years. What business can compete having to do that? So there has been a real unfairness here and this gives us an opportunity to then pass more bills after this to rectify the situation.
It would be most unfortunate. On the part of the Majority Leader, however Chuck Schumer met – had an event such as this earlier with groups calling upon the Senate to take up the bill. How can you say no to this?
Anyone else? This is John Beaumont. Oh, he still has a mullet.
John Beaumont. It’s disappearing though over the years.
I am actually am still a carrier, even though I work for D.C., in San Francisco. I’m assigned to the national president. And this, talking about the delay of mail, that is just what’s going on now. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve had issues from COVID, starting at the beginning, before March. And it’s continued to roll out.
We have thousands of letter carriers that have tested positive across this nation and clerks as well. We’ve had to replace them with temporary workers or different forces bringing in. There were no funds at all to replace them, but we’ve continued to deliver medicine, parcels, everything, before any of these delays came up, at a cost that we did not get reimbursed.
The first CARES Act – which you know is the first stimulus act came up – when it came up, billions of dollars were given to all sorts of private shippers, all sorts of private companies. Not a dime went to the Postal Service which represents this country moving forward.
We’re just asking for $25 billion dollars to help us get through this pandemic and move forward, so we can help continue to deliver the service that all of us that work for the Postal Service do. So that’s what this is about. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. It think it’s important to note that in the CARES Act, we did have the $25 billion. The we reduced it to the $20 [billion]. Then we cooperated with Republicans and had a smaller amount. But the Oval Office, the President of the United States says, ‘I’m not letting one penny be in the bill for the Postal Service.’ Right from the Oval – even when we had some bipartisan support for some, not enough, but some money.
Q: Speaker, the President has repeatedly said that mail-in voting would be a disaster? What are your thoughts on postal service capabilities to carry out nationwide mail-in voting?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, let me. The question, in case you couldn’t hear it, again quotes the President’s falsehood – yet another, again, another one – falsehood that there’s a – mail-in voting has fraud. There is no evidence of such wide-spread fraud.
And when they asked his Chief of Staff, ‘You don’t have any evidence of fraud in the vote by mail.’ And he said, ‘Well, you don’t have any evidence that there’s isn’t fraud.’ Oh, really?
I mean, this is how they insult the intelligence of the American people and that’s why they know they can’t win the election on the level. So they have to lie, cheat and steal and that’s what this is.
I’m sorry, in your district, to speak so bluntly.
But this is what they are. And the fact is, is that they want to stop this because it removes obstacles of participation to voting and they’re of the voters, they’re afraid of the American people. Why? Because people are on to them.
And by the way, the President votes by mail. And by the way, his family was out here in a recent election down south, for Congress, a special election, urging people to vote by mail. So they don’t seem to mind when it’s to their advantage.
But this is heartbreaking because this is the way of the future. Coronavirus necessitates it. But even without that, people should be able to vote in a way that is comfortable for them. Some people want to go to the polls. And in our bill on elections – where we asked for the $3.6 billion – we say it’s not just about vote-by-mail. It’s also about if people who up, that it should be – that they should be spacial distancing, that they have enough polling places, that they have enough, so that means, open longer for more days in more areas, so that people have access.
And so, it is an obstruction of our democracy. It’s a degrading of the sacred right to vote, which is the essence of our democracy and we will fight them every step of the way.