House committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns

Bonnie Cash

The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday asked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to answer questions at an upcoming hearing as concerns mount over delivery delays and how they could affect mail-in voting.

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) announced the committee sent a letter to DeJoy asking for his testimony on Sept. 17 to “examine operation changes to the U.S. Postal Service.”

“The Committee on Oversight and Reform requests your testimony at a hearing to examine recent changes to U.S. Postal Service (USPS) operations and standards and the need for on-time mail delivery during the ongoing pandemic and upcoming election, which as you know may be held largely by mail-in ballot,” Maloney wrote in the letter to DeJoy. 

The letter indicates that Maloney tried to schedule a hearing this week but the postmaster general had a meeting with the board of governors. Maloney said staff confirmed his availability for the September hearing. 

The request for DeJoy’s testimony comes after Maloney and other lawmakers sent him a July 20 letter asking for information on changes in the U.S. Postal Service. Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and committee member Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) also signed the letter. 

The lawmakers cited documents that appeared to detail operation adjustments, including one that said “if we cannot deliver all mail” because of staff shortages “the mail will not go out.” In the letter, the Democrats criticized the Postal Service for not informing Congress of the changes as some lawmakers were discussing potential reform bills for the service. 

“While these changes in a normal year would be drastic, in a presidential election year when many states are relying heavily on absentee mail-in ballots, increases in mail delivery timing would impair the ability of ballots to be received and counted in a timely manner—an unacceptable outcome for a free and fair election,” the letter said.

The Postal Service responded in a July 22 letter, saying the documents cited in the lawmakers’ letter were not “official Postal Service memoranda” and did not come from the service’s headquarters. 

The letter signed by Thomas Marshall, the USPS general counsel and executive vice president, went on to say the service is “committed to delivering Election Mail in a timely manner” and is coordinating with state and local leaders ahead of the election.

A group of senators also recently wrote to DeJoy with similar concerns. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to DeJoy late last month asking him to explain the changes he’s made and pressing him on whether reported delivery delays could affect voting.

The Postal Service is facing financial difficulties in an age of email and social media and has found itself under attack from President Trump. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the country, states are expecting significantly more voters to cast ballots by mail.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Brenda Lawrence Carolyn Maloney Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Gary Peters Gerry Connolly Hearing House Oversight and Reform Committee Mail mail-in ballots mail-in voting Pandemic postmaster general Stephen Lynch Testimony Tom Carper U.S. Postal Service

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