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Postmaster general to testify before Senate panel on Friday

Postmaster general to testify before Senate panel on Friday
© Bonnie Cash

Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyJudge orders Postal Service to sweep facilities twice a day for any ballots that can be delivered on time Brent Budowsky: Democracy in America is on trial Postal Service misses court-ordered deadline for unsent mail ballots MORE will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, spokespeople for DeJoy and the panel's chairman, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Wis.), confirmed to The Hill. 

The hearing, which is expected to take place virtually because the Senate is currently in the middle of a three-week recess, will be the first chance for lawmakers to publicly question DeJoy amid growing bipartisan concerns about changes at the United States Postal Service and widespread mail delays ahead of the November election.

According to the committee, the hearing will look at the "finances and operations of the United States Postal Service during COVID-19 and upcoming elections." 

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Top Democrats have clamored for days for Johnson to hold a hearing with DeJoy. Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Senate committee, touted securing his testimony as a win.

“I am pleased to have secured an oversight hearing on Friday with Postmaster General DeJoy in order to address urgent questions on the Postal Service delays that are causing massive disruptions across the country. ... I will continue pressing for answers on Mr. DeJoy’s recent directives and their impacts on all Americans, who rely on the Postal Service for prescriptions, running their small businesses, voting and other crucial purposes," Peters said in a statement on Tuesday.

DeJoy, a GOP donor, is coming under scrutiny over concerns that the post office is not equipped for a potential surge in mail-in voting in November due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan will testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday. 

The Postal Service warned 40 states in letters late last week that their deadlines to request, return and count ballots may clash with the realities of mail delivery at a time when the Postal Service is already facing financial troubles, delivery delays and an expected influx of election-related mail, according to The Washington Post.

Friday's Senate hearing will come a day before the House is set to return to vote on a stand-alone Postal Service bill. While details of the legislation are still being finalized, it is expected to include an additional $25 billion in Postal Service funding. 

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Senate Republicans are also expected to unveil a smaller coronavirus relief package that will include billions in Postal Service funding as soon as Tuesday. 

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Biden and reproductive health rights Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) has given no indication that he plans to bring the Senate back from recess early to vote on the bill. The Senate is currently not scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., until Sept. 8. 

"The Postal Service is going to be just fine. We're going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected and I don't share the concerns that the president ... has mentioned," McConnell told reporters in Kentucky on Monday.

And White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE appeared to shoot down the idea of doing a stand-alone Postal Service bill, telling reporters that it was "not only unrealistic, it's unnecessary." 

The president is “willing to provide money for the post office as long as it is included in some other skinny measure if we cannot agree to a larger deal," he added. 

--Updated at 9:48 a.m.