Like nearly every member of Congress, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) has received a deluge of calls, emails, and letters from his constituents over the past month asking about recent delays and service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service.
In his mailed responses to constituents’ concerns, two of which were reviewed by The Daily Beast, Garcia touts a pair of bills: the HEROES Act and the Moving Forward Act, both of which passed the U.S. House this summer.
Garcia’s prominent reference to the postal legislation’s generous funding of the USPS, and their provisions for “modernizing” the agency, leave the reasonable impression that he is offering the bills up to constituents as a possible solution to the issues facing the Postal Service—or, even, that he supported them. The only problem: he did not. That fact is omitted from his letters.
A former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, Garcia is among the newest members of Congress. On May 13, he won a hotly contested special election to represent California’s 25th District, a battleground seat that encompasses the suburbs to the north of Los Angeles. Two days later, the House voted to approve the HEROES Act, a sweeping, $3 trillion stimulus bill to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, which also included $25 billion in emergency funding for the USPS.
Garcia did not have the chance to vote on the HEROES Act—he would be sworn into office on May 19—but all of his fellow GOP colleagues to-be, save for one, voted against the legislation. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House GOP leader, routinely described the bill as a bloated vehicle for Democrats’ alleged push to “enforce their socialism.”
Then, in July, the House voted to approve the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that appropriated another $25 billion for USPS investments in “modernizing postal infrastructure and operations, processing equipment, and other goods,” as Garcia describes it. He noted to constituents that the legislation passed the House and awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate.
But on July 1, only three House Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the bill; Garcia was not one of them. A press release from Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which Garcia is a member, argued that the bill “disguises a heavy-handed and unworkable Green New Deal regime of new requirements as an ‘infrastructure bill.’”
A spokesperson for Garcia did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast about why the congressman was referencing bills he did not support in response to constituent concerns about the USPS, or if the congressman now supported either of those bills.
The freshman Republican’s muddled messaging on the Postal Service is reflective of the political bind facing some in the GOP. But while Garcia floats solutions he actually did not himself back, other House Republicans have responded to the public outcry over mail delays by breaking with their party’s official line that USPS concerns amount to a Democratic “conspiracy theory.”
On Aug. 22, the House convened in a rare, late-summer Saturday session to consider a bill that would roll back recent service changes implemented at the USPS by the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. Most Republicans denounced the bill in strong terms as a political ploy from Democrats. “Like the Russia hoax and impeachment sham, the Democrats have manufactured another scandal for political purposes,” said Rep. James Comer (R-KY) during debate on the House floor.
But the legislation passed with the support of 26 House Republicans—an unusually high number in the House on such charged bills—who joined all Democrats in voting yes. Garcia was not one of them.
The operational reforms, made by USPS leadership in the name of efficiency and fiscal viability, led to delays in medication, food, and other supplies that were felt by residents in Garcia’s district as much as anywhere in the country. On Aug. 19, the local radio station KHTS reported that eight mail sorting machines—a target of recent USPS initiatives—were dismantled over the summer in the Santa Clarita Valley, which comprises the central part of the 25th District. The area accounted for nearly 9 percent of the total number of sorting machines that were taken offline in the entire state of California.
In a statement to the Ventura County Star ahead of the Aug. 22 vote, Garcia said that providing an additional $25 billion to the USPS—the very sum he mentioned in his previous letters to constituents—would be unnecessary.
“I believe that we, as elected representatives of the people, have an obligation and a responsibility to safeguard taxpayer dollars,” Garcia said. “While I cannot support this superfluous legislation, I continue to support and stand with the men and women of the USPS who are entrusted with our nation’s mail.”