House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday after a call with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the postmaster has “no intention” to replace sorting machines and blue mailboxes that have already been removed.
She added that “plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.”
“All of these changes directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color,” she continued. “At the same time, we are highly concerned that the slowdown of the delivery of medicines to veterans is not being sufficiently addressed.”
DeJoy released a statement Tuesday, which Pelosi called “misleading,” promising to postpone the USPS overhaul until after the election. He said that, for now, approval of overtime hours for postal workers will continue “as needed,” and that mail processing equipment will be untouched and centers left open.
When he started the job in June, he laid out plans to make extensive changes at the already beleaguered agency. Those plans attracted attention and horror last week, when the postal service sent letters to 46 states and Washington D.C. warning them that it may not be able to turn mailed ballots around fast enough for them to be counted this November.
Pelosi recalled her members to Washington D.C. to vote on funding for the USPS, and DeJoy was called to testify in both the House and the Senate. USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer confirmed to TPM Tuesday that DeJoy will still be attending those hearings before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Friday and the House Oversight Committee Monday.
The House is scheduled to meet Saturday to vote on Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney’s (D-NY) bill that would provide $25 billion, the amount the Trump-appointed board of governors requested, for the USPS.
Senate Republicans are working on counter-legislation that would include $10 billion for the postal service as well as a continued unemployment benefit at $300 a week and some funds to support education and testing during the pandemic, according to the Associated Press. The legislation would ring in at around $500 billion, if leadership can get their members to coalesce behind it, which they’ve failed to do with other COVID-19 relief proposals.
So far, Democrats have rejected “piecemeal” packages like the Republicans’ out of hand. The House passed a $3.4 trillion relief bundle called the HEROES Act in May, and Democratic leadership has so far insisted on expansive and comprehensive legislation.
Both Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have expressed their wariness that if they agree to pass a “skinny” bill with only a few nuggets of economic relief in it like the Republicans want, the White House and congressional Republicans will pack up and leave the negotiating table, satisfied to have at least something tangible to show the American people they’ve helped with the nationwide suffering.