SPONSORED:

House Oversight Committee calls for 'urgent' hearing with postmaster general

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is calling for Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyJudge orders Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines Watchdog rips operational changes at USPS Voting rights group files suit against Trump, administration officials alleging voter intimidation MORE to testify at an "urgent" congressional hearing later this month amid growing concerns about whether cost-cutting measures will leave the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) ill-equipped to handle a rise in mail-in voting. 

“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,” the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyTrump, House lawyers return to court in fight over subpoena for financial records Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas MORE (D-N.Y.), wrote in a letter on Sunday to DeJoy, who was appointed to his post in May.

“Your testimony is particularly urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays at postal facilities across the country — as well as President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE’s explicit admission last week that he has been blocking critical coronavirus funding for the Postal Service in order to impair mail-in voting efforts for the upcoming elections in November,” Maloney added.

ADVERTISEMENT

The New York Democrat said that a hearing examining operational and organization changes at the USPS will be conducted on Aug. 24. The chairwoman had originally planned for a hearing in mid-September but said that recent reports had compelled her to speed up the timeline. 

The committee is also seeking testimony from Robert Duncan, the chairman of the U.S. Postal Service board of governors.

Democrats have raised increasing alarm in recent weeks over DeJoy's actions and President Trump's repeated attacks on mail-in voting, which is expected to play a much greater role in the 2020 presidential election due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tensions boiled over on Thursday after Trump said in an interview on Fox Business that he was opposed to Democrats' efforts to allocate $25 billion in coronavirus relief to USPS because it would assist mail-in voting. 

"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 re-election," Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Maloney, said in a statement Sunday

ADVERTISEMENT

They called on DeJoy and top Postal Service leadership to "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."

The USPS has faced financial challenges for years, and DeJoy, a top Republican donor, has argued that his recent moves to reduce overtime and adjust delivery policies are part of an effort to cut costs. The Postal Service is also in the process of removing more than 670 high-speed mail-sorting machines across the nation, according to The Washington Post

However, critics say the decisions could hurt delivery schedules and impair voting in the 2020 election. The USPS warned election officials in July of possible scenarios where mail-in votes do not arrive in time to be counted in November because of "inconsistencies" with delivery service and state deadlines.

“The letters advised election officials to be mindful of the potential inconsistencies between the Postal Service’s delivery standards, which have been in place for a number of years and have not changed, and the provisions of state law,” Martha Johnson, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, said in a statement.

The hearing's announcement comes just two days after Democratic leaders delivered a letter to DeJoy demanding answers about the changes being made at post offices across the country. Democrats are giving DeJoy until Aug. 21 to produce a host of "key documents and information" related to the matter, they said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The House is currently on recess until the week of Sept. 14. However, Pelosi is reportedly weighing whether to call the entire lower chamber back into session early to address the fallout related to the USPS. 

Trump said Saturday during a news conference that he'd agree to additional funding for the USPS; however he claimed that Democrats were not making necessary concessions in negotiations. 

“If you’re going to do these millions of ballots out of nowhere, [DeJoy is] going to obviously need funding, but the Democrats are not willing to provide funding for other things, and therefore they are not going to get the funding for that,” Trump said. “You are going to have a catastrophic situation with universal mail-in votes.”

This report was updated at 12:10 p.m.