Postmaster general agrees to testify before House panel

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee about recently implemented cost-cutting measures at the U.S. Postal Service that have sparked fears that some ballots might not be delivered in time for Election Day.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Monday that DeJoy and Robert Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, had agreed to testify next Monday in response to her request.

“The American people want their mail, medicines, and mail-in ballots delivered in a timely way, and they certainly do not want drastic changes and delays in the midst of a global pandemic just months before the election,” Maloney said.

The hearing, which is expected to begin at 10 a.m., will come after the expected House vote on Saturday on legislation authored by Maloney to prevent the Postal Service from implementing changes to operations that it had in place as of January while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. The bill is also expected to include $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service, which was an amount recommended by the agency’s board of governors and included in House Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill in May, a Democratic aide confirmed.

The hearing will take place on the same day that Republicans begin their convention to formally nominate President Trump as the party’s nominee for the White House. 

Maloney and other top Democrats in the House and Senate also asked DeJoy to provide documents by Friday to explain the proposed changes to Postal Service practices, including charging states and jurisdictions higher rates if they want first-class delivery times for election mail and limiting overtime.

House Democrats’ plans for the Oversight committee hearing and rare weekend session to vote on legislation will come days after the post office warned states that it might not be able to deliver ballots to election offices in time to be counted and advised voters to send their ballots well ahead of state deadlines.

Many states also offer voters other ways to avoid potential lines to cast ballots on Election Day, including in-person early voting and dropping off ballots received in the mail at local election offices or designated drop boxes.

Rep. James Comer (Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, downplayed the impact of the recent changes at the Postal Service as a “conspiracy theory” pushed by Democrats.

“If Americans do choose to vote by mail, we all agree that ballots must be fairly delivered by the Postal Service in a timely manner to the American people. This is an incredible revenue-generating opportunity for an organization that has bemoaned a downward trend in mail volume,” Comer said in a statement on Monday.

But the changes implemented under DeJoy, a top GOP donor, come as Trump has repeatedly tried to sow doubt in the reliability of voting by mail, despite voting by mail himself in Florida this year.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package in May that included $25 billion for the post office as well as $3.6 billion for states to bolster election systems.

White House negotiators offered $10 billion for the Postal Service as part of their talks with Democrats, but the negotiations have stalled in recent weeks over a wide range of issues including expired unemployment insurance payments and funding for state and local governments.

Trump initially indicated last week that he opposed providing funding for the Postal Service because it would help allow for universal mail-in voting in November, but later said that he would sign legislation providing the money if Democrats made concessions on other issues in a coronavirus relief package.

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

Tags 2020 presidential election Carolyn Maloney Donald Trump House Oversight Committee James Comer Louis DeJoy mail-in ballots U.S. Postal Service USPS

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