House Oversight Committee calls for ‘urgent’ hearing with postmaster general
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is calling for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy 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 Maloney (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 Trump’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.
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 Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Maloney, said in a statement Sunday.
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.
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.
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