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Schumer, Gillibrand, Tonko Discuss USPS In Troy

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New York’s two U.S. Senators were in Troy today, pushing for public support for the postal service. The Democrats are calling for swift approval of emergency pandemic relief funding as the House prepares to bar the USPS from cutting services.

Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer stood outside the Broadway post office in Troy, arguing that the Capital Region would be one of the hardest hit areas in the country if action is not taken soon to reverse recently ordered service cutbacks.

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Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer in Troy, NY (August 17, 2020)

Schumer says that with 1,500 local jobs, the Capital Region is a postal hub. He tied the issue to the next round of coronavirus relief funding.

"The distribution center here employs close to a thousand people and distributes the mail not just for the Capital Region, for the mid-Hudson and the North Country as well."

Schumer says a proposal on the table would offer $10 billion dollars in funding to the post office this year and another $15 billion in future years.

Schumer criticized Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, saying COVID-19 has pushed more Americans to use the mail for things like receiving prescriptions and shopping online because they can't go to stores.

"It was clear when I met with him that his desire was to dismantle the post office, brick by brick. He didn't seem to give a hoot for the workers or the millions and hundreds of millions of Americans who need the mail."

He adds small businesses are relying on the postal service to deliver supplies so they can keep operating. Schumer is calling for all election ballots to be treated as First Class Mail, and says the postmaster should appear before the House Oversight Committee.

"If Mr. DeJoy does not show up at the hearing, he should be stamped 'return to sender' and be forced to step down."

DeJoy reportedly has agreed to attend the hearing and testify.

Here's Gillibrand:

"What's most concerning is that it seems highly possible that this is being done solely for politcal reasons. President Trump has continued to spread conspiracy theories about vote by mail. And over the weekend he admitted that he doesn't want to fund the post office because it would lead to expanded vote by mail."

Gillibrand used the occasion to reiterate her call to allow post offices to offer banking services to the public.

Capital Region Congressman Paul Tonko, also a Democrat, tells WAMC with the election approaching, the pandemic has rendered the post office more vital than ever.

"I think we need to be on the highest alert to make certain that there are enough eyes watching this process, that it be as clean as a whistle, because the fundamental threat the most non-violent too we have for justice in this country, is our right to vote."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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