I have tremendous concern that Congress has not appropriated the necessary funds for our Postal Service (USPS) to continue service. This service cannot be replaced by private delivery companies, online billing, or electronic communication.

The Postal Service provides a low-cost service that ensures privacy and delivery to every corner of the United States. Our founders understood the importance of establishing an effective means of communication between every household and business — no matter how rich or poor or how geographically isolated. This means of communication is still important today because not everyone has access to the internet, but everyone does have access to the USPS.

The USPS is authorized in the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8). George Washington and James Madison helped pass legislation, making the post office operational in 1792. Lines are long at the Post Office, particularly around the holidays, because it provides a service at a cost no competitor can match. The Postal Service’s accessibility and affordability is critically important to rural communities, seniors, and people with disabilities, who might not otherwise be able to afford the cost of a private business to deliver essential medications and daily necessities. Twenty percent of adults age forty and over exclusively receive their prescription medications by mail.

We are currently in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and we do not know if it will be safe for everyone to participate in an in-person voting experience this November. A safer and more inclusive approach for voting would be to implement a widespread mail-in ballot effort. But to reinforce our democracy in such a meaningful way requires that the Postal Service be funded.

The Postal Service fosters community and provides jobs. In many small towns and rural areas of our country, the post office continues to be a community gathering spot, a place to visit with neighbors and hear the local gossip. It is an integral part of the fiber of many communities in a way that private companies cannot replace.

It is also worth noting that the USPS is the second largest employer in the nation. At a time when unemployment claims have risen to Great Depression levels, choosing to add an additional 600,000 people to the number of unemployed is to willfully exacerbate and worsen an already extremely difficult situation.

I urge Congress to provide the necessary funds for the Postal Service to continue. We must not let this keystone of democracy be lost.

Favola represents parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties in the Virginia state Senate. She is a Democrat.

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