Pelosi summons lawmakers to return ‘to save’ U.S. Postal Service
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
When Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., Speaker of the House of Representatives, summoned House members to return to Washington, D.C., this week, she said their mission is “to save the Postal Service.”
Her message was yet another reminder of how the operation of the nation’s mail agency suddenly has become a huge political fight, pitting President Donald Trump, who once called the USPS “a joke,” against Democratic lawmakers, who accused him of trying to sabotage the Postal Service to win re-election.
Rarely, if ever, have postal issues dominated a presidential campaign like this year.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s actions to cut the Postal Service’s ever-growing deficit seem only to have inflamed the debate.
Postal Service letters warning state election officials about the agency’s mailing deadlines and the slowness of bulk mailings compared to first-class mailings have fueled the arguments.
To Democrats, DeJoy’s actions to require mail to be delivered strictly on scheduled timetables and slash overtime are part of a White House-inspired scheme to prevent the Postal Service from delivering the expected millions of vote-by-mail ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Trump has been outspoken in his belief that massive numbers of mail-in ballots will be fraudulently cast this fall.
DeJoy, as Pelosi put it, is “one of the top Trump mega-donors” and “a complicit crony” who has ordered changes that have already begun to delay the mail.
DeJoy has not directly answered Pelosi’s charges, but he seemingly acknowledged in an Aug 13 letter to USPS workers that not all his initial changes have gone well.
“I ask you to bear with me while we work through these changes to transform for the better and continue to provide the excellent service for which we are known,” he said.
He insisted that his revisions will “ultimately help us.”
The president, who met with DeJoy at the White House on Aug. 3, has defended him and his actions.
Republicans on Capitol Hill largely have been silent.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, attacked “the Democrats’ wild and baseless conspiracy theory,” saying it would undermine public trust in the election and public institutions.
But he conceded in an Aug. 17 release that “the Postal Service also owes it to the American people to improve their operations.”
House Democrats are being asked to return to Washington for the purpose of passing a measure designed to block DeJoy’s changes.
That proposal, called the Delivering for America Act, would “prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any changes to the operations or levels of service it had in place on Jan. 1, 2020, until the Covid-19 pandemic has ended.”
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said her measure would “maintain current service standards as well as the integrity of our elections and bedrock democratic principles.”
“Our Postal Service should not become an instrument of partisan politics, but instead must be protected as a neutral, independent entity that focuses on one thing and one thing only — delivering the mail,” she said in an Aug 12. press release.
The House is scheduled to vote on Maloney’s postal bill on Aug. 22.
To become law, Maloney’s legislation must pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
Pelosi is hoping that some Senate Republicans will back Maloney’s bill.
To create more support, Pelosi told House members they should stage “a day of action” by appearing at a local post office for a press event.
“In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central,” Pelosi said. “Americans would not have to choose between their health and their vote.”
Even if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., won’t allow the Senate to consider Maloney’s bill, Pelosi has a plan to keep the postal issues alive.
She has asked DeJoy to appear at an “urgent hearing” Aug. 24 to defend his changes in postal operations.
DeJoy previously told the House panel he could not appear until mid-September.
Speaking to reporters in Kentucky, McConnell said: “The Postal Service is going to be just fine.”
“We’re going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected,” he said, according to reports by CNN and other news sources. He did not refer to any legislation expected from the House.
Asked about President Trump’s worries about voting by mail, McConnell said: “I don’t share the concern, the President’s concern.”
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