Politics & Policy

Pelosi Calls House Lawmakers Back from Recess for Postal Service Vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaks next to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., August 7, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

House speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is calling the House back to Washington from August recess to vote on legislation that would prevent the Postal Service from implementing any changes to its operations or level of service ahead of the November election.

Pelosi’s call to action comes amid accusations that President Trump and his newly appointed postmaster general are slowing down the mail to impact mail-in voting in November’s election as the president and many Republicans have repeatedly criticized voting by mail as leaving the election open to widespread voter fraud.

“Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues Sunday.

Pelosi took aim at postmaster general Louis DeJoy, whom she called a “top Trump mega-donor” who has “proven a complicit crony as he continues to push forward sweeping new operational changes that degrade postal service, delay the mail, and – according to the Postal Service itself – threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion.”

DeJoy has drawn criticism after instituting cutbacks and operational changes that have caused a week’s delay in mail in some places. In an effort to make the money-losing agency more efficient, he eliminated most overtime for postal workers, imposed restrictions on transportation, and reduced the quantity and use of mail-processing equipment. 

“These delays also threaten the health and economic security of the American people by delaying delivery of life-saving medicines and payments,” Pelosi said. “Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the President.”

She added: “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’ which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.”

Earlier Sunday, Democratic lawmakers called leaders of the Postal Service to testify at an emergency oversight hearing Aug. 24 on the recent “sweeping and dangerous operational changes” at the agency that they claimed are “slowing” the mail and “jeopardizing the integrity” of the 2020 election.

Amid public outcry over the removal of many blue mailboxes, the Postal Service announced Sunday it “will postpone removing boxes for a period of 90 days while we evaluate our customers’ concerns,” a spokeswoman for the service said. 

Last week Trump said that he was blocking $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election money to the states. 

“They want $3.5 billion dollars for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, election money basically … the mail-in votes, okay, universal mail-in ballots,” Trump said on Fox Business Thursday morning. 

“Now, they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” the president continued. “Those are just two items, but if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

While Democrats have pushed to make mail-in voting universally available to protect voters from possible exposure to the coronavirus at polling places, Republicans have warned that universal mail-in voting could lead to lost ballots, or ballots being sent to those who have died or to the wrong addresses.

Mail-in voting also raises concerns about the amount of time it would take to count all the mail-in ballots, and the Postal Service’s ability to deal with the influx of mail. In letters sent to election officials in 46 states and D.C. in July, the service warned mail-in ballots may not arrive in time to be counted in the upcoming election.

A vote on the Postal Service legislation could happen as soon as Saturday, after the weeklong Democratic National Convention concludes, according to a report from Fox News.

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