Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is calling the lawmakers back into session from a summer recess to vote on funding for the U.S. Postal Service as the new postmaster general proposes cost-cutting measures.
Democrats fear that the cuts in service are aimed at delaying the delivery of mail-in ballots in the November 3 presidential election.
The House would consider legislation to keep the post office from implementing what Pelosi calls changes to “operations or level of service” that it had at the start of 2020.
“The Postal Service is a pillar of our democracy, enshrined in the Constitution and essential for providing critical services: delivering prescriptions, Social Security checks, paychecks, tax returns and absentee ballots to millions of Americans, including in our most remote communities,” Pelosi said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling on Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to recall the Senate to quickly act on what he says is the “extensive damage” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has done so “people can get their paychecks, medicines, and other necessities delivered on time, and to ensure our elections will remain completely free and fair.”
Pelosi and Schumer have called on DeJoy and U.S. Postal Service Chairman Robert Duncan to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee next week.
President Donald Trump has alleged without evidence that voting by mail will lead to election fraud. He admitted last week that he is delaying $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service to make voting by mail harder.
He has since backed away from that statement, saying he will approve the funds if Democrats pass the coronavirus relief package Republicans favor.
“The president has explicitly stated his intention to manipulate the Postal Service to deny eligible voters access to the ballot in pursuit of his own reelection,” Pelosi and Schumer said in an earlier statement. “The postmaster general and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election.”
Postmaster General DeJoy is a wealthy Republican donor and a Trump appointee. He has yet to say if he will testify. But Schumer says he should be removed if he “refuses to come before Congress.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows denies charges that Trump is trying to manipulate the voting process.
“The president of the United States is not going to interfere with anybody casting their votes in a legitimate way whether it’s the post office or anything else,” Meadows told CNN Sunday.
But he says the White House is afraid that an avalanche of mail-in ballots will postpone the results of the 2020 election.
“A number of states are now trying to figure out how they are going to go to universal mail-in ballots,” Meadows said. “That’s a disaster where we won’t know the election results on Nov. 3 and we might not know it for months, and for me that’s problematic because the Constitution says that then a Nancy Pelosi in the House would actually pick the president on Jan. 20.”
The number of mailed-in ballots is expected to skyrocket this year because voters may be afraid to stand in line at polling stations to vote in person during a pandemic.
Nine of the 50 states are planning to conduct their voting in November almost exclusively by mail. Millions of voters in other states can get a mail-in ballot if they ask for one. Trump and first lady Melania Trump have already requested mail-in ballots in their adopted home state of Florida.
Trump has said there is a difference between a mail-in ballot and an absentee ballot that is needed when a voter will be away from his precinct on Election Day.
Many analysts say there is no evidence that voting by mail gives one party an advantage over the other and says making it harder to cast a ballot through the mail could backfire on the Republicans, who tend to be older voters who may prefer to vote by mail rather than in person in a pandemic.