Several prominent Democrats on Sunday made clear that they’re not taking President Trump’s explicit efforts to cripple the U.S. Postal Service lightly.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Postal Service warned 46 states that it cannot guarantee all mail-in ballots for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, regardless of whether the ballots are mailed by state deadlines. The USPS’ warning came as President Trump continues repeating his baseless claim that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud and openly admits to opposing Democrats’ efforts to allocate $25 billion in coronavirus relief to fund USPS because it would assist mail-in voting.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has also come under fire recently for implementing cost-cutting policy changes that critics say are causing delays to election mail.
From the House Oversight Committee’s letter on Sunday demanding that DeJoy testify at an “urgent” congressional hearing following “startling” cost-cutting policy changes to the USPS, to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging a key Senate panel to hold a public hearing with USPS leadership, congressional leaders signaled that they’re ready to cut its August recess short to address the ongoing crisis unfurling over the USPS just months away from the November election.
Here’s how Democrats hit back at Trump’s efforts to sabotage the USPS on Sunday:
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), House Oversight Committee chair
In a letter written to DeJoy on Sunday, Maloney wrote that there have been “startling new revelations” regarding DeJoy’s postal service overhaul and that she’s pushing up his testimony to Aug. 24 in light of reports on delays at postal facilities nationwide.
“Over the past several weeks, there have been startling new revelations about the scope and gravity of operational changes you are implementing at hundreds of postal facilities without consulting adequately with Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, or the Board of Governors,” Maloney wrote.
Maloney wrote that DeJoy’s testimony is “particularly urgent” due to “troubling” reports of delays at postal facilities nationwide, in addition to the President explicitly admitting that he’s holding up emergency funds for the USPS — a move that will prove detrimental to mail-in voting in the November election.
House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), who is reportedly considering bringing the House back in session to address the USPS crisis, and Schumer issued a scathing statement as well on Sunday as they demanded testimony from both DeJoy and Robert Duncan, the chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Schumer leaned in further into his call for Congress to deal with the USPS crisis immediately during a press conference on Sunday.
Schumer called on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) to schedule a hearing with DeJoy and Duncan. Schumer added that DeJoy should be removed from his position if he won’t testify.
Schumer added that if the House passes legislation addressing the USPS crisis, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should bring the Senate back into session before its currently scheduled return on Sept. 8.
“In addition to hearings, I will push for new legislation that will undo the changes that have slowed down the mail and ensure all mail-in ballots for the upcoming election are treated as First Class priority,” Schumer said. “Accordingly, if the House acts on legislation, Leader McConnell must bring the Senate back into session so we can quickly pass their legislation to reverse these harmful changes.”
Sen. Schumer: "Speaker Pelosi and I are looking at having a standalone bill — the House, she can call it back into session… I hope she will. And then I will ask Leader McConnell to call the Senate back in session." pic.twitter.com/ckAMGNAMQH
— The Hill (@thehill) August 16, 2020
Schumer also echoed his remarks in a tweet on Sunday.
If Postmaster General DeJoy doesn’t testify before Congress next week as Speaker Pelosi and I have requested, he should be stamped, returned to sender, and removed from his position.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 16, 2020
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
When asked during an interview on CNN about whether New Jersey will be ready to vote by mail this fall following Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-NJ) announcement that ballots will be mailed to all 6.3 million voters in the state, Booker replied that “voter fraud is incredibly rare.”
“And when it’s done absentee ballots or in mail-in ballots, the reason why it’s so easy to find out is because you literally have a paper trail,” Booker said.
Booked said that what concerns him most is “not these spurious claims that somehow there’s going to be mass voter fraud,” but the “all-out attack” that the President is waging to “undermine the United States Postal Service, to underfund it, to allow a mega-donor leading it to overtly do things to slow down the mail.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
The former Democratic presidential candidate urged that Congress return to session to deal with the USPS crisis, which he argued is a “crisis for American democracy” overall and needs to be acted on now.
When asked by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd about whether both the House and the Senate should cut their August recess short to deal directly with the USPS crisis, Sanders responded “absolutely” because it’s “not a debate about the Postal Service alone.”
“That’s important,” Sanders said. “This is about the future of American democracy and whether people have a right to participate.”
After pointing out how his state of Vermont just held primaries that “worked just fine” with most voters casting ballots by mail, Sanders urged Pelosi to bring back the House and that senators “will do everything that we can to get McConnell to bring back the Senate.”
“This is a crisis for American democracy,” Sanders said. “We have got to act and act now.”