(House Television via AP)
(House Television via AP)

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) voted last week to protect the United States Postal Service (USPS) from further cuts that would disproportionately affect rural communities. 

The USPS and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have come under fire in recent weeks after reports that cost-cutting measures led to mail delivery delays. A Senate report found there were “significant” delays in mail delivery after DeJoy’s changes, such as dismantling mail-sorting machines, were put in place. According to Senate researchers, this created an especially dangerous situation for Americans who receive prescription medication through the mail. 

“All of the mail-order pharmacies that are heavily reliant on USPS for delivery of mail-order drugs reported an increase in average delivery times, ranging from 18-32%. In general, this meant that deliveries that would typically take 2-3 days were instead taking 3-4 days,” the report found. “Some delays appear to be even longer.”

In a statement, Torres Small said her constituents have reached out to her office with complaints of mail delays. 

“[They’ve cited] everything from utility bills arriving 10 days late to a veteran household finding themselves running low on heart medication,” she said. “New Mexicans rely on the post office to remain connected year-round.” 

The bill Torres Small voted to pass, called the Delivering For America Act, prohibits officials at the Postal Service from implementing or approving changes to the current operation at the agency that would impede prompt mail delivery. The prohibition would remain in effect during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic or January 2021, whichever date is later. 

The bill also requires USPS to treat all election mail as first-class mail. There has been ongoing concern from elected officials and advocacy groups that the high number of mail-in ballots sent due to the pandemic could be delayed, which would influence the outcome of the election. 

Torres Small said she was pleased to see support for the bill from both sides of the aisle and encouraged similar bipartisanship to pass the next round of coronavirus relief aid that has been stalled on Capitol Hill for months.