Pelosi on postmaster general pausing changes: ‘They felt the heat’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday said the postmaster general’s decision to pause changes to Postal Service operations until after the election amounted to a “necessary but insufficient first step,” adding that House Democrats still plan to take legislative action.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s announcement came while Pelosi was participating in a virtual Politico Playbook interview. A staffer handed Pelosi a note informing her of the news, which Pelosi read aloud and added: “Well, he should.”

“They felt the heat. And that’s what we were trying to do, is to make it too hot for them to handle,” she added.

In a statement later Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi said DeJoy’s announcement “only halts a limited number of the postmaster’s changes, does not reverse damage already done, and alone is not enough to ensure voters will not be disenfranchised by the president this fall.”

“The House will be moving ahead with our vote this Saturday,” she said.

Pelosi first announced on Sunday that she would call the House back early from its August recess to vote on legislation that would prevent the Postal Service from making changes to delivery operations during the coronavirus pandemic. The House is scheduled to convene on Saturday to vote on the bill in a rare weekend session sandwiched between the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Pelosi said the legislation would likely be released later Tuesday. It is expected to include provisions providing $25 billion in funding and preventing the Postal Service from implementing changes to operations that it had in place as of January. The funding amount was recommended by the Postal Service’s board of governors and included in House Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that passed the chamber in May.

“We want to roll them back,” Pelosi said in the Politico interview of the recent cost-cutting measures at the Postal Service, such as limits on overtime and the removal of mail-sorting machines from facilities.

The Postal Service has also proposed charging states and jurisdictions higher rates for election mail to be delivered at first-class timeframes, compared to less expensive marketing mail that typically takes longer.

The postmaster general said in Tuesday’s statement that retail hours at post offices will stay the same, mail processing equipment and collection boxes will not be removed, mail processing facilities will remain open and overtime will be approved as needed.

DeJoy said cost-cutting initiatives would be on hold until after the Nov. 3 election, in which many people are expected to cast ballots by mail to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19 at polling places.

“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” DeJoy said in a statement. “The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards.”

DeJoy is expected to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, with an appearance before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday.

President Trump has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting in recent months while trying to sow doubt about its reliability, even though he voted absentee in Florida this year. Election experts have said there is no evidence of widespread fraud associated with ballots cast by mail.

Updated at 4:29 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Louis DeJoy Nancy Pelosi

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