"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
That's the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service. And the folks who sort and deliver our mail – called for in Article I of the U.S. Constitution --take it very seriously.
Not Donald Trump.
Democrats say the Republican president is hamstringing post office operation to hinder Democrats voting by mail in the Nov. 3 election.
And this is during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with Texas having more than half a million cases and 10,000 deaths.
Most officials urge people to stay home if possible, to avoid spreading the virus.
But Trump claims mail-in balloting is rife with fraud -- which most officials say is ridiculous.
Trump has been roundly criticized for taking his re-election more seriously than US COVID-19 deaths passing 170,000 since mid-March.
He seems to want to make it so difficult or unreliable to vote by mail that people's choices are risking their lives to vote in person, or not voting.
The post office in 1971 was changed from a cabinet position to a stand-alone department.
Trump in May named as postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a big donor to him and the Republican Party.
Since starting June 15, DeJoy stripped out several top officials, limited overtime and made other changes, causing mail back-up and slower delivery.
As partisan wrangling in congress over how much to spend on coronavirus response has stalled, Democrats reduced their emergency request from $25 billion to $10 billion for the struggling USPS, plus states and localities, to handle an expected deluge of mail-in ballots.
Trump has said the Democrats can't get the additional USPS funding unless they agree to lower spending on the coronavirus response package.
“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump told Fox Business Network Thursday. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”
“Trump is sabotaging the post office, upon which so many depend as a lifeline for Veterans, Social Security, and Medicare payments, prescription medications, and much more,” said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.
“Trump’s wrongdoing is all the more reason for getting a vote by mail application now to secure a ballot in September that even Trump cannot prevent being counted in November.”
A group of 31 Democratic US senators in a letter Friday said they have heard from hundreds of veterans, and Department of Veterans Affairs staff, that mail delays are "causing veterans to miss doses of vital medications."
The letter from the senators, led by Sen, John Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said "Access to prescription medications is especially integral during the COVID-19 pandemic, when routine health care appointments may be delayed or canceled.
"No veteran should have to wonder when their antidepressant or blood pressure medication may arrive – and the effect can be devastating if doses are missed."
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is the local election official in Texas's most populous county, which includes Houston. He said voters worried about mail delays can drop off their mail-in ballots at any of the county's 11 offices “beginning whenever they receive their ballots and continuing through Election Day, November 3, at 7:00 PM.”
“Preserving every eligible citizen’s right to vote is a pillar of our democracy,” Hollins said in a statement. “My office is doing everything in our power to withstand the challenges of the ongoing global pandemic and uphold this essential right for eligible voters.
"But it is shameful," he said, "that partisan politics has led to the destruction of the United States Postal Office – an institution we need dearly right now.”
Hollins said “despite this latest form of voter suppression, voting by mail remains the safest
method for Texans to vote this.November.”
Texas Republican officials Gov. Greg Abbott, Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have strongly opposed Texas joining most other states in allowing universal mail-in balloting
The Texas election code defines disability as a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.”
But Harris County's Hollins, a Democrat, said disability can also mean being at risk for COVID-19.
“You are the sole determinant of your health status," Hollins said. "You make that judgment, and my office is not qualified and does not have the ability or the will to question your judgment."