(CBS13/CNN) — Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy reversed course Tuesday, saying that all changes being made to the Postal Service would be suspended until after the November 3 election, just as 20 Democratic states announced plans to file federal lawsuits.
DeJoy said that some of the deferred decisions mean that retail hours at post offices will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain in place and no mail processing facilities will be closed.
At least 20 Democratic attorneys general across the country are launching a multi-pronged legal effort to push back on the recent changes that disrupted mail delivery across the country and triggered accusations that Trump and his appointees are trying to undermine mail-in voting.
The Democratic attorneys general plan to argue that DeJoy is illegally changing mail procedures ahead of the 2020 election.
DeJoy “acted outside of his authority to implement changes to the postal system, and did not follow the proper procedures under federal law,” according to a statement from Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
The USPS and DeJoy have maintained that the changes are intended to improve the agency’s dire financial situation. DeJoy also rejects accusations that he made these changes at Trump’s behest.
At least two lawsuits are being filed Tuesday. One led by Washington state will be joined by Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Another group of state Democratic attorneys general are filing a similar lawsuit in a Pennsylvania federal court. These states include California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maine and North Carolina.
Read the full statement issued by DeJoy Tuesday:
“The United States Postal Service will play a critical role this year in delivering election mail for millions of voters across the country. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.
“I want to make a few things clear:
“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.
“I am announcing today the expansion of our current leadership taskforce on election mail to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country. Leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining this taskforce to ensure strong coordination throughout our organization. Because of the unprecedented demands of the 2020 election, this taskforce will help ensure that election officials and voters are well informed and fully supported by the Postal Service.
“I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.
“I want to assure all Americans of the following:
- Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
- Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
- No mail processing facilities will be closed.
- And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.
“In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.
“I am grateful for the commitment and dedication of all the men and women of the Postal Service, and the trust they earn from the American public every day, especially as we continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19. As we move forward, they will have the full support of our organization throughout the election.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)