Controversial USPS Changes Have Been Called Off, But Michael Bennet Is Still Worried About Mail Voting

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Lumineers Back Bennet On RESTART Act At Boulder Theater
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet at the Boulder Theater Thursday, July 16, 2020, as he called for Congress to pass the RESTART Act, which aims to help independently owned arts and performance venues stay afloat through the end of the year.

The nation’s postmaster general has backed off cost-cutting measures that raised a public furor, but Colorado’s Democratic senator said Thursday he still isn’t confident the election will be run right.

“It doesn’t give me any comfort,” Michael Bennet told Colorado Matters host Avery Lill. “These are the tactics that we would expect to see in places like Turkey or Russia. We would never expect to see them in the United States.”

President Donald Trump has blasted the postal service for months and recently acknowledged he wanted to cut its budget to prevent the expansion of mail voting.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had ordered cost-cutting measures including a ban on overtime, closure of mail processing facilities and removal of postal boxes. Critics argued that’s slowing delivery and could jeopardize voting by mail

On Tuesday, DeJoy backed off, saying he would suspend the changes until January.

Bennet said the controversy may already have damaged turnout by discouraging voters who want a simple and safe process during the pandemic.

Interview Highlights

On whether vandalism during recent demonstrations for racial equity will bolster Trump’s law-and-order argument:

“I don’t think anybody supports vandalism and it doesn’t help the cause (but) this is beginning to restore my faith in democracy. I mean, when you see Colorado's legislature passed the first modern police accountability legislation in the country and not just Democrats supporting it, what I know is that two years ago those votes wouldn't have been there.

And because people took to the streets, because they protested over injustice that has lasted far longer than any of us would have wanted, they've actually been able to make change.”

On whether reinstating a $600 weekly unemployment benefit will discourage people from returning to work:

“That's why I've proposed that what we do is extend the unemployment benefits, but that we feather down the amount over time so that we don't create a disincentive for people to work or for people to be able to hire folks.”

On healing the Democratic party’s division over health care:

“(Biden supports a public option) to supplement the work that we did in the Affordable Care Act. If we had a public option for everybody in America and we expanded CHIP (the Children’s Insurance Program) so that every eligible kid was on it and did the same thing with Medicaid we very quickly could cover everybody in this country.”

On whether Bernie Sanders supporters will rally to Biden: 

“Last time we saw (an enthusiasm gap) Donald Trump was elected president. A lot of people thought he could never be elected president. I think people thought maybe their vote wouldn't matter. We now know neither of those things are true. Donald Trump can be elected. He was elected. He can be reelected.”

Read more about how Colorado Matters and CPR News conducts interviews with elected officials, here.