The U.S. House recently passed a bill that would give $25 billion in emergency funding to help keep the U.S. Postal Service going through the pandemic and expected surge of mail closer to the General Election. The funding level is the amount the Trump-appointed U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors recommends. Four Missouri members voted in favor of the legislation – Republicans Sam Graves and Ann Wagner and Democrats Emanuel Cleaver and Lacy Clay.

The plan would also reverse recent cost-cutting measures to slow service.

Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

The Postal Service has been struggling financially due to a decline in mail volume, the pandemic causing costs to climb, among other things. Cleaver, who represents Kansas City and several rural western Missouri counties, has been sounding the alarm for a while about the agency’s money problems. He says talks of privatizing it is an insult to the older.

“I just think that that’s almost mean spirited,” he says. “We don’t even think about the older people in our country who are not online, who still handwrite all their letters and pay their bills by writing out checks.”

Cleaver co-sponsored the bill, H.R. 8015. He tells Missourinet privatization would also hurt rural communities.

“When you privatize it, can you imagine X corporation delivering mail to a little farm outside of Orrick, where they have to drive from Kansas City to Orrick and then drive down a dirt road to put the mail in a mailbox? They are not going to do it. They are going to say it is not cost efficient – it’s cost prohibitive,” says Cleaver.

Cleaver’s district includes rural towns like Marshall, Richmond and Belton.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, represents 36 counties in northern Missouri (file photo courtesy of Congressman Graves’ office)

Graves, of northern Missouri, tells Missourinet affiliate KFEQ the legislation affects almost every part of his district.

“The post office is something that I’ve been looking at and working through for years,” says Graves. “I have a very rural district and a lot of senior citizens in my district that depend on postal and making sure that we keep six-day delivery out there and timely.”

Graves’ district includes Chillicothe and Memphis.

President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the bill – and Graves says he and the president don’t always agree on everything.

“This is one of those issues and that’s been the case with every president that I’ve worked with. Whether that was Bush, I didn’t agree with him on everything. Obama, I didn’t agree with him on everything. And obviously President Trump,” says Graves. “We don’t agree on everything as well and that’s part of what representation is. I have the opportunity to be very parochial with my district and I can look out for, and always have, for the interest of my district.”

Graves says in this election, it’s unfortunate that the Postal Service has become political.

Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and Congressmen Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jason Smith all voted against the plan.

It is expected to have an uphill battle in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said the delivery of mail-in ballots was a “nonexistent problem.”

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