A coalition of activists led by MoveOn.org declared Saturday a “day of action” aimed at saving the U.S. Postal Service, with nearly 700 rallies held nationwide — including a handful in Riverside County.

A small group of protesters gathered in front of a post office in Cathedral City, many wearing masks and others hoisting signage in support of the postal service.

“This is not about elections,” Becki Robinson, a rallygoer in Cathedral City, told KESQ. “This is our post office. It’s about medication. It’s about checks. It’s about birthday cards. It’s about communication with people you haven’t seen in a while. It’s so much more.”

Other protest locations in Riverside County included post offices in Riverside, Beaumont and Banning.

“We will show up at local post offices across the country for `Save the Post Office Saturday’ to save the post office from (President Donald) Trump and declare that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy must resign,” said a statement on the MoveOn.org website.

DeJoy, who was appointed postmaster general June 16, has been accused of tampering with the nation’s postal service by banning overtime, removing mail-sorting equipment and prohibiting extra trips by postal workers to collect mail and parcels that arrive later in the day under the auspices of cutting costs.

The U.S. Postal Service lost $8.8 billion in the 2019 fiscal year, more than twice the amount of the previous year, and DeJoy has said the changes are necessary to save money.

Critics have said the changes have slowed mail delivery at a time when more people are relying on the service amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and to vote by mail ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

DeJoy attempted to defend his leadership during a hearing Friday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, saying operational changes would be put on hold until after the election. He also vowed post offices will be able to handle mail-in ballots.

He is expected to testify Monday before the Democrat-led House Oversight Committee.

The U.S. House of Representatives, in a rare Saturday evening vote, passed a bill that would provide $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service and requires the agency to return to prior operational levels.

The vote was 257-150, with 26 Republicans joining all House Democrats voting in favor.

Senate Republicans have said that they would not pass the bill, and President Trump has said he would veto it anyway.

“The Postal Service is a pillar of our democracy enshrined in the Constitution, and it provides essential services for families, veterans, workers, and seniors here in #CA36 and across the country. Postmaster DeJoy must undo the damage he’s done to the #USPS NOW,” wrote Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, on Facebook Friday.

Trump described DeJoy last Saturday as “a very talented man” and “a brilliant businessperson.” DeJoy was chairman and CEO of North Carolina-based contract logistics firm New Breed Logistics from 1983 until 2014.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Wednesday that the Postal Service “does have sufficient funding through 2021, and they do currently have cash on hand. They’ve been given that $10 billion line of credit through the CARES Act,” referring to the federal coronavirus relief bill.

McEnany said the Trump administration is “certainly open to” increased Postal Service funding.

On Tuesday, Trump called for Amazon to pay more for shipping packages through the Postal Service.

“Amazon is paying an ancient price, and they shouldn’t be,” Trump said. “And they shouldn’t be allowed to pass it on to their customer.”

Trump also said “We shouldn’t get rid of any of our postal workers.”

Ruth Y. Goldway, a commissioner of the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission from 1998-2015 and its chair from 2009-14, urged “everyone to be calm” in an op-ed published Tuesday by The New York Times.

“Don’t fall prey to the alarmists on both sides of this debate,” wrote Goldway, a Democrat appointed to the commission by then-President Bill Clinton and reappointed in 2002 and 2008 by then-President George W. Bush. “The Postal Service is not incapacitated. It is still fully capable of delivering the mail.”

Goldway wrote that “While the agency indeed has financial problems, as a result of a huge increase in packages being sent through the system and a credit line through the CARES Act, it has access to about $25 billion in cash. Its own forecasts predict that it will have enough money to operate into 2021.”

Goldway attributed the Postal Service’s “shaky financial situation” largely to the approximately 30% drop in first-class mail, typically used for letters, from 10 years ago.

“The service’s expensive, overbuilt infrastructure can absorb the addition of more mail in 2020, including election mail that is mailed to and sent back by every voter in every state,” Goldway wrote.

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