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Sen. Jacky Rosen On Postmaster General's Testimony Before The Senate

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Louis DeJoy has only been on the job two months, and in that time, he has captured more national attention than almost any U.S. postmaster general before him. Today he testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and he tried to reassure lawmakers that his changes to the Postal Service won't get in the way of voting by mail.

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LOUIS DEJOY: I think the American people can feel comfortable that the Postal Service will deliver on this election.

SHAPIRO: This summer, he has taken what he calls cost-cutting measures at the Postal Service. Democrats and some Republicans say that has slowed down mail delivery. DeJoy, who is a major Trump donor, insists the changes were not motivated by politics.

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DEJOY: We are very committed. The board's committed. The postal workers are committed. The union leadership is committed to having a successful election. And the insinuation is quite frankly outrageous.

SHAPIRO: Sen. Jacky Rosen is a Democrat from Nevada. She participated in the virtual hearing and joins us now from Las Vegas. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

JACKY ROSEN: Thank you for having me today.

SHAPIRO: I said that DeJoy set out to reassure lawmakers. Are you reassured?

ROSEN: No, I'm actually not reassured because when I questioned - had the opportunity to question the postmaster general today, I asked him over and over again what kind of analysis he based these decisions on. Did he consider that veterans get - 80% of their VA medication gets sent through the post office? Did he consider seniors, many of whom get their medications or their social security checks through the post office? Did he consider our small businesses, particularly in rural areas, who get supplies through the post office?

He didn't have any good answers for that. He didn't seem to know if there was an analysis. We're going to require him to give us that. And if he hasn't done it, we want him to do that and provide it to us so that we can make the right decisions to get the mail to every address in America.

SHAPIRO: As I mentioned he's a major Trump donor and supporter, and President Trump has been repeatedly publicly attacking the post office. Do you believe him when he says none of these changes are politically motivated?

ROSEN: Well, you know, I suppose you have to take him at his word. But I can tell you that, you know, the postmaster general is elected by the Postal Board of Governors, all of whom are appointed by Trump. And I believe that he had to have an eye on pleasing his ultimate boss, which is the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

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ROSEN: And so if there's anything that he does to delegitimize or cause loss of confidence in our post office and our election and our ability to deliver a safe and fair election to every person who wants to vote, then we have to call him out on that.

SHAPIRO: He told you that the removal of mailboxes and older machinery is routine, not something new this summer. Are you convinced by that explanation?

ROSEN: Well, I can tell you I had a roundtable with the postal workers in Nevada yesterday, and they told me that they have been shutting down those sorting machines. And what he's saying does not match up with what the boots on the ground right here in Nevada are telling me. And so somebody is not telling the truth. It's his job to know. The buck stops at his desk, and I want to know why he doesn't know what's happening on the ground.

SHAPIRO: There's real-time pressure here. The election is just over two months away. And last week, the general counsel of the Postal Service told 46 states that mail-in ballot delays could lead to votes not being counted. DeJoy says this is about state deadlines that are too late. A Republican senator pointed out that these kinds of letters have been sent in the past. Are you confident that the post office is prepared for the flood of mail-in ballots that everyone is expecting?

ROSEN: Well, we're just going to keep going forward. I've been working with the Nevada post office here up and down the state. We're going to be talking with all of our elected officials here and everyone we can to be sure that we have every tool that we need to be sure that every voter in Nevada has a safe way to vote whether it's by their mail-in ballot, whether it's early vote or same-day voting. It's really important. The American people deserve nothing less.

SHAPIRO: It seems to me that you're in a difficult position because you don't want to undermine confidence in the democratic process of voting, and at the same time, when you see alarming things, you want to ring alarm bells. So how do you walk that line?

ROSEN: Well, I think you walk the line by transparency. So we've already been on the phone up and down the state with our different post offices, with our unions. We'll be talking with the governor. We're going to be sure that any way we can we're going to shore up what we need to do in Nevada. Our primary here was in June. That was successful with our mail-in ballots, so we've had a test of that, and we should be good going forward. I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that.

SHAPIRO: Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which heard today from the new U.S. postmaster general. Thank you for speaking with us.

ROSEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.