Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to bring back the House of Representatives weeks ahead of its scheduled September 14 return, in an attempt to stop Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from swinging a wrecking ball into the Postal Service in the lead-up to the election.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter addressed to Democrats and published on Sunday, Pelosi refers to DeJoy as a “complicit crony” in President Donald Trump’s “campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters.” Changes under DeJoy, a major GOP donor who took office in June, have included a ban on overtime and the deactivation and removal of mail-sorting machines, which has led to mail delays all over the country.
DeJoy’s changes “threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion,” Pelosi wrote in the letter. “These delays also threaten the health and economic security of the American people by delaying delivery of life-saving medicines and payments. In 2019, 1.2 billion prescriptions were delivered through the Postal Services, including almost 100 percent from the VA to veterans.”
On Monday, Trump denied he was sabotaging the election by declining to provide money for the USPS. “I’m just making [the U.S. Postal Service] good,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “I want to make the Post Office great again.”
Pelosi called on her members to hold events this week at post offices in their district to draw attention to the issue, and then return to Washington later in the week for an emergency vote on the “Delivering for America Act” bill introduced last week by New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the House Oversight committee chair.
“A once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency,” Maloney said in a statement last week. “The Delivering for America Act would reverse these changes so this fundamental American service can continue unimpeded.”
Any bill would have to be passed by the Senate and signed by Trump to become law. The White House has repeatedly shot down additional funding for the Postal Service during the pandemic, and last week, Trump admitted on live television that he is opposing aid to stop the Postal Service from delivering absentee ballots.
“They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in a Thursday appearance on Fox Business. “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.”
The Postal Service recently sent letters to 46 states and Washington D.C. saying it can’t guarantee all mail-in ballots will arrive in time to be counted, the Washington Post reported Friday.
Previously, the House wasn’t scheduled to return for votes until September 14. Legislators have faced heavy criticism for leaving town for the August recess without passing a coronavirus relief package; the House passed its own $3 trillion package in May, but Senate Republicans haven’t agreed on a new set of relief measures.
In addition to the House coming back into session, Maloney is asking DeJoy to testify in an emergency hearing on Monday, Aug. 24, on the recent changes at the Post Office.
“Your testimony is particularly urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays at postal facilities across the country—as well as President Trump’s explicit admission last week that he has been blocking critical coronavirus funding for the Postal Service in order to impair mail-in voting efforts for the upcoming elections in November,” Maloney wrote to DeJoy.
Cover: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks to reporters after a television interview in Russell Building on Friday, August 14, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)