Democrats call for hearing with postmaster general about 'dangerous' changes to USPS ahead of election

Written by on August 16, 2020


President Donald Trump has supplied conflicting statements about supplementary funding for the U.S. Postal Service. USA TODAY

Congressional Democrats urged the postmaster common to testify earlier than a Home committee almost a month sooner than initially requested, saying the “pressing” listening to is required to deal with “harmful” modifications made on the Postal Service, an company beneath fireplace because it prepares to deal with an unprecedented variety of mail-in ballots within the November election.

In a joint statement, Democrats known as on Postmaster Normal Louis DeJoy and Chairman of the USPS Board of Governors Robert Duncan to “testify earlier than Congress about current, sweeping and harmful operational modifications on the Postal Service which can be slowing the mail and jeopardizing the integrity of the election.”

DeJoy was scheduled to testify earlier than a Home panel on Sept. 17, however Home Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney stated his testimony was “particularly urgent given the troubling inflow of stories of widespread delays at postal services throughout the nation” and the brand new listening to is scheduled for Aug. 24. 

Maloney, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Chief Charles Schumer, Home Oversight and Sen. Gary Peters, the rating Democrat on the Senate Homeland Safety and Governmental Affairs Committee, stated within the assertion that DeJoy and Duncan should clarify “why they’re pushing these harmful new insurance policies that threaten to silence the voices of thousands and thousands, simply months earlier than the election.” 

‘Starve the Postal Service’: Obama criticizes Trump for sweeping changes at the USPS

The considerations in regards to the current modifications on the Postal Service come after months of Democratic efforts to safe extra funding to assist the USPS survive the pandemic. Maloney warned the agency was facing bankruptcy in March, when Democrats sought billions of {dollars} to assist states handle elections through the outbreak, earlier than settling for $400 million within the CARES Act stimulus package deal. 

In a March 30 interview on “Fox & Pals,” President Donald Trump known as the Democrats’ election calls for “loopy.” 

Within the months since then, the president has expressed considerations that the drive for expanded vote-by-mail may result in elevated voter fraud, although consultants say election fraud is uncommon and statistically insignificant. 

Funds to assist the Postal Service endure the pandemic and put together for the election have been one of many main sticking factors within the stalled negotiations over a brand new stimulus package deal. The $3.four trillion HEROES Act, which the Democratic-controlled Home handed in Might, included $25 billion for the USPS. 

The White Home has stated the worth tag of the Democratic stimulus package deal is just too excessive and insisted that the one method Republicans will conform to extra Postal Service funding is that if Democrats compromise on a extra modest stimulus deal. 

Trump sparked outrage final week when he stated in a Fox Enterprise Community interview that he opposes more cash for the Postal Service whereas saying that with out the cash, the upcoming flood of mailed ballots will probably be unmanageable. 

“They want that cash as a way to have the put up workplace work so it will probably take all of those thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of ballots,” Trump stated. “In the event that they don’t get these two gadgets, which means you may’t have common mail-in voting as a result of they’re not geared up to have it.”

On Sunday, White Home Chief of Employees Mark Meadows saidon CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump would signal a invoice that included as much as $25 billion for the USPS if Democrats would agree on a stimulus deal. 

“If my Democrat associates are all upset about this, come again to Washington, D.C., the place the president and I’m proper now,” Meadows stated. “Let’s go forward and get a stimulus take a look at to People. Let’s be sure that small companies are protected with an prolonged PPP program and put the postal funding in there.”

“We’ll cross it tomorrow. The president will signal it. And this can all go away,” he stated.

The goal of the Aug. 24 listening to will probably be to “study the sweeping operational and organizational modifications on the Postal Service that consultants warn may degrade supply requirements, gradual the mail and doubtlessly impair the rights of eligible People to solid their votes by the mail within the upcoming November elections.”

USPS: Coronavirus postcard that featured Trump’s name cost struggling Postal Service $28 million

The listening to is scheduled forward of the opening of the Republican Nationwide Conference that very same night. 

The Democratic leaders additionally urged Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Safety Committee, to carry hearings “as quickly as subsequent week.” 

On Friday, the USPS warned election officers across the nation that even when ballots are requested forward of state deadlines and mailed again shortly some may not be delivered in time to be counted.

One transfer that had sparked concern was the removal of mail collection boxes, which was reported in a number of Western states. In response to considerations that the removals may hinder folks’s capacity to vote, a USPS spokesman instructed CNN they’d cease the method in 16 Western states and components of two others till after the election.

One other change that Democrats see as a part of “the sabotage of the Postal Service” includes the reported removing of mail sorting machines from some put up workplaces across the U.S. 

Meadows stated Democrats are spinning a “narrative that is not based mostly on details” and that the sorting machine removing is a part of a “regular means of taking them” for “re-gearing.” He stated it’s not a “new initiative” by DeJoy. 

“There is not any sorting machines which can be going offline between now and the election,” Meadows stated. “That is one thing that my Democrat associates try to do to stoke worry on the market. That is not taking place.” 

Meadows stated he may “assure” that “the president of the USA shouldn’t be going to intervene with anyone casting their vote in a professional method, whether or not it is the put up workplace or anything.” 

Trump’s chief of employees stated the entire famous modifications had been about growing “effectivity” on the Postal Service, which was in monetary hassle lengthy earlier than COVID-19 hit the U.S. 

In 2019, the Authorities Accountability Workplace warned the present USPS scenario is “unsustainable.” It misplaced $69 billion over the previous 11 federal fiscal years, together with a $3.9 billion loss in 2018, the GAO stated. Whole unfunded liabilities and debt are actually greater than double the postal service’s annual income. 

Of their assertion, Pelosi, Schumer Maloney and Peters blasted DeJoy as a “Trump mega-donor” who “has acted as an confederate within the President’s marketing campaign to cheat within the election.” 

Truth examine: New postmaster general invested in Postal Service competitors

DeJoy turned postmaster common in June, changing Megan Brennan, a profession Postal Service worker who retired earlier this yr. He has donated greater than $620,000 to Republican candidates and committees up to now this yr, together with greater than $360,000 to Trump’s reelection marketing campaign, in keeping with the Federal Election Fee. He donated greater than $440,000 to the Trump marketing campaign and the Republican Nationwide Committee in 2016. 

DeJoy and his spouse maintain as much as $75,815,000 in belongings from U.S. Postal Service opponents, in keeping with authorities data. Authorities ethics consultants instructed USA TODAY that nothing requires the postmaster common to divest such belongings, besides maybe the place a particular battle of curiosity arises. 

Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Donovan Slack and Katie Wedell

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