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Pascrell and Blumenauer Seek Answers if Mail Delays Hurt Customs and Border Protection

Endemic postal problems could threaten refunds of duty and fee overpayments

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, have asked to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess how continuing systemic mail delays at the United States Postal Service (USPS) may impact CBP operations and the disbursement of overpayments of duties, taxes, and fees.

“The continuing system delays at the Post Office have a powerful cascading influence across our society,” said Chairman Pascrell. “These frustrating problems may have devastating impacts on Americans who are waiting patiently for overpayment refunds. Any delays of CBP refunds cannot be tolerated and so our subcommittees want to head off any possible problems. I applaud President Biden’s removal of Postal Chair Ron Bloom and continue to urge the replacement of Louis DeJoy for exacerbating these problems at the Post Office.”

“The Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittees on Oversight and Trade are trying to determine the impact of the new standards, which include increased time-in-transit standards, on U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” Chairs Pascrell and Blumenauer write Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller. “To what extent will delayed mail delivery impact CBP (please include any estimates related to the expected delays), and what options, if any, are under consideration by CBP to address potential delays?”

In recent weeks, Chairman Pascrell has led inquiries to the agency heads of the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and now Customs and Border Protection, seeking information on how mail delays may impact services and benefits to tens of millions of Americans.

Since this postal crisis began, Rep. Pascrell has aggressively demanded accountability from USPS. On May 21, 2020, Pascrell wrote to USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb demanding an investigation of turmoil at the USPS, stemming from a pattern of interference engineered by the Trump administration in its efforts to destabilize the post office. On August 14, 2020 Pascrell became the first member of Congress to call for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Trump to be investigated by a state criminal grand jury for their dismantling the Post Office, making a criminal referral to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal alleging Trump and DeJoy subverted state elections.

On January 25, 2021, Rep. Pascrell became the first member of Congress calling on President Biden to fire the entire Postal Board of Governors sitting before his election for their silence and complicity in DeJoy’s ongoing sabotage of postal operations. In February, Pascrell immediately praised the nominations by President Biden of the three new nominees to the USPS Board of Governors and on March 18, Pascrell and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) led over 50 House Democrats urging Biden to immediately remove the then-sitting USPS Board of Governors.

President Biden’s announcement on November 19, 2021 that he would not renominate Postal Board Chairman and chief DeJoy defender Ron Bloom came in direct response to Pascrell’s repeated calls to oust Bloom.

The text of Pascrell and Blumenauer’s letter is provided below.

 

November 17, 2021

 

Acting Commissioner Troy Miller

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20229

 

Dear Acting Commissioner Miller,

As you know, the United States Postal Service (USPS) recently announced new service standards for first class mail. The Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittees on Oversight and Trade are trying to determine the impact of the new standards, which include increased time-in-transit standards, on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and would appreciate your answers to the following questions by December 10, 2021.

  1. How many communications are sent by CBP throughout the year, and how much is spent on postage?
  2. How many of these communications include a deadline or response date by which the responding party must act or respond? Please identify which of these deadlines are provided for in statutory language.
  3. Each year, how many CBP refunds of overpayments of duties, taxes, and fees are made by mail?
  4. How many pieces of correspondence are received by CBP each year?
  5. How much is spent annually on postage by CBP, and what is the upcoming budget for FY2022 for postage?
  6. To what extent will delayed mail delivery impact CBP (please include any estimates related to the expected delays), and what options, if any, are under consideration by CBP to address potential delays?
  7. Describe any discussions with USPS related to mail rates/pricing and delivery times for mail from and to CBP within the last year.

Your assistance with our review is appreciated.

Sincerely,

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