Tensions mount around efforts to cripple the Postal Service ahead of November election
Washington, DC – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring the Senate back into session amid growing tensions surrounding changes at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) ahead of the November election. This comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed House lawmakers to return from recess this week to vote on legislation to halt further operational changes within the USPS.
“Good for [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi for bringing the House back. I believe Mitch McConnell needs to bring the Senate back as well," Warren told NBC's "Today." "People depend on the post office. We're depending on it for our democracy."
McConnell is facing growing calls to bring senators back to Washington from their August recess, which is scheduled to last until Sept. 8. The mounting pressure is due to recent policy changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee and major GOP donor, that have created widespread delays ahead of the November elections where mail-in voting is likely to be exceptionally high due to the pandemic.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) released a statement on Sunday calling on McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring the Senate back early to take action on the House legislation. “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,” he said in a statement.
Even Senate Republicans have joined the call to return to Washington. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), said the Senate needs to debate and vote on the coronavirus package, which includes new funding to the USPS. Negotiations on a fifth coronavirus relief package have stalled as partisan divisions have prevent any traction on the legislation.
House Democrats returning to the Swamp
House Democrats will likely return to Washington this week to vote on legislation from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), sponsor of the Delivering for America Act. The bill would prohibit any changes to the USPS's services of operations until after the coronavirus pandemic has ended. In a statement, Maloney said the “Postal Service should not become an instrument of partisan politics” and added that “a once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency.”
In a statement Sunday evening, Pelosi urged her colleagues to “participate in a Day of Action on Tuesday by appearing at a Post Office in their districts for a press event” in order to “save the Postal Service.” “In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central. Americans should not have to choose between their health and their vote,” added Pelosi.
With mounting scrutiny about DeJoy, Trump has defended his appointee as “a fantastic man” who “wants to make the Post Office great again.” When pressed about the reasoning behind some of DeJoy's most controversial decisions, Trump said, “I don’t know what he’s doing. I can only tell you he is a very smart man.”
Pelosi was not as forgiving. She said DeJoy “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.”