KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Missouri Congressman are pushing for answers to ongoing problems with mail delivery in the Kansas City area.
U.S. Reps. Sam Graves and Emanuel Cleaver, of sixth and fifth districts respectively, sent a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on the agency’s “failure to reliably deliver mail six days a week … as required by law.”
FOX4 has been reporting on mail delivery problems in the Kansas City area for several months.
In early September, Problem Solvers heard from nearly 20 Northland neighbors who are getting their mail delivered 2-3 days a week. Many said they routinely wait five or six days between mail deliveries.
Resident Anne Bertolde told FOX4 when it does come, it comes in one big dump, dozens of letters at a time.
In July, FOX4 visited a south Kansas City neighborhood where mail had been sitting around the local post office for weeks instead of going inside mailboxes.
Residents were waiting in long lines at the South Troost Post Office because they said that was the only way to get their mail.
Then in June, a Liberty woman told Problem Solvers she and her neighbors didn’t receive mail for an entire week. Plus, Chanickqwa Griffin said eight packages were never delivered to her house, despite what the post office’s online tracking system said.
Congressmen want answers
“Ensuring the delivery of mail is one of the few powers specifically delegated to Congress in the Constitution, so when I hear about constituents reaching out to my office having not received their mail in weeks, it compels Members of Congress to act,” Cleaver said.
“Missourians from all walks of life depend on the United States Postal Service to deliver the mail six days a week,” Graves said. “It doesn’t matter if you live in downtown Kansas City, in the suburbs, or in rural north Missouri. Folks depend on the mail to get prescriptions, bills, and other important documents in a timely manner.”
The two congressmen pointed to the recently passed Postal Service Reform Act, which ended the mandate for USPS to prefund retirement benefits. The agency posted a nearly $60 billion net profit last quarter because of that.
But the law also mandated that the Postal Service maintain its current service, including six days of mail delivery.
“The failure of the agency to live up to its core promise, particularly when they just posted a $60 billion net profit, is unconscionable,” Graves wrote. “I’ve long supported our postal workers and the dedication they have to delivering the mail on time, but it’s clear there’s a leadership problem somewhere in the chain of command and Missourians deserve some answers.”
The letter from the congressmen requests formal responses to several questions, including, “Has the USPS received internal or external reports of significant failures to uphold its six-day mail delivery, as required by law?” and “How does the USPS plan to address the Kansas City region’s unreliable mail delivery?
Calls for an audit
Cleaver and Graves aren’t the only members of Congress calling for answers on USPS problems in the area.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, asked the USPS inspector general to conduct an audit on the agency’s mail delivery in the Kansas City metro.
“I want to know why we are seeing this uptick,” said Hawley, who serves on the Senate committee that oversees the postal service. “The post office has told us it’s just a staffing issue, having folks not necessarily on the job, sick leave and such. That may be the case, but I need to figure out if there is a deeper system issue here.”
Hawley’s audit request followed FOX4 Problem Solvers’ report on mail delivery problems in the Northland last month.
Paul Steidler, an expert on the postal service at the Lexington Institute, previously told FOX4 he’s pleased Hawley requested an audit.
But Steidler said Congress missed an opportunity to improve postal operations with the Postal Service Reform Act, which failed to include much in the way of measures holding the postal service accountable for poor mail delivery. Hawley co-sponsored the bill.
Other USPS concerns
In September, Cleaver and Graves also called for a federal commission to evaluate USPS rates and determine if the agency is raising costs above normal inflation-based levels. They co-sponsored a House resolution on the issue that has been introduced and sent to committee.
DeJoy is planning to request another permanent stamp price hike in January, the Associated Press reports. The price increases are necessary as inflation is expected to add $1 billion to USPS’ budget, DeJoy said.
The price of Forever stamps just went up over the summer from 58 cents to 60 cents. Less than a year ago, the stamps cost 55 cents.
In another effort to save money, the Postal Service also slowed delivery times earlier this year.