House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the chamber will return from its vacation early to vote on legislation meant to limit changes to the Postal Service ahead of the presidential election in November.
The California Democrat said she would call on the House to return to the Capitol in the coming days.
“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the President,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman [Carolyn B.] 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.”
The House was not scheduled to return until Sept. 14, but the vote on the Postal Service legislation will likely take place Saturday, both Politico and The New York Times reported. The House Democratic leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), will announce a final schedule on the vote in the next few days.
The abrupt return to Congress comes amid growing concerns about the Postal Service as an unprecedented number of Americans are expected to vote by mail in November’s upcoming election because of changes to absentee voting rules and the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, enacted changes to mail service that voting rights advocates worry could disenfranchise many voters who could have trouble getting their ballots in time.
DeJoy, a top Republican megadonor and supporter of the president, took over the Postal Service in May and quickly moved to limit overtime for postal workers and remove mail-sorting machines from some processing centers.
The agency recently warned 46 states that it couldn’t guarantee that all mailed ballots would be delivered to voters in time (Americans are also deeply concerned about getting regular mail, including prescriptions and paychecks).
DeJoy moved to assuage those concerns earlier this month by saying the Postal Service still had “ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time,” arguing that he instituted the changes to keep the agency from losing money because of a “broken business model.”
The moves sparked public outrage, and the Postal Service said that it would stop removing mailboxes around the country for 90 days. The White House, meanwhile, said it would not take any more sorting machines offline before Election Day.
But Democrats have called for DeJoy to testify before lawmakers to address “why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions just months before the election.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the chamber’s Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), to bring back the Senate early as well.
“I call on Leader McConnell to bring the Senate back into session to quickly act on the House’s legislation that will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service so that people can get their paychecks, medicines and other necessities delivered on time and to ensure our elections will remain completely free and fair,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday night.
Pelosi on Sunday called the Postal Service a “pillar of our democracy” and urged her colleagues to move to protect the agency.
“In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central,” she wrote. “Americans should not have to choose between their health and their vote.”
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