McConnell: Senate unlikely to pass stand-alone Postal Service bill

Greg Nash

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is casting doubt on the Senate passing a stand-alone Postal Service bill, even as House Democrats prepare to pass their own legislation.

“I don’t think we’ll pass, in the Senate, a Postal-only bill,” McConnell told the Louisville Courier Journal on Tuesday.

The House is expected to return to Washington, D.C., on Saturday to pass Postal Service legislation. The legislation Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will hold a vote on hasn’t yet been released, but it is expected to include $25 billion in funding for the post office and prevent changes to its operations.

Facing growing bipartisan backlash over mail delays, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced on Tuesday that he would pause changes to the operations of the Postal Service until after the November election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

Pelosi declared victory over the decision, saying they “felt the heat” but indicating the House would go forward with its Saturday vote as previously planned.

The vote on the stand-alone Postal Service bill comes as negotiations over a larger coronavirus relief package have stalled after talks between Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows unraveled earlier this month amid steep political and policy divisions.

Some House members are urging Democratic leadership to include an extension of the $600-per-week federal unemployment benefit as part of Saturday’s votes. 

The federal benefit expired at the end of last month. President Trump signed an executive order designed to provide an additional $400 per week. But the actual weekly payment will drop to $300 if states are unable to provide the additional $100. Some have warned that it could also take weeks for states to implement the new benefit.

McConnell, during a stop in Kentucky on Tuesday, described the talks as at an “impasse.” During a separate event on Monday, he cautioned that while he thought there should be a fifth bill, “I can’t tell you yet here today whether there’s going to be additional relief.” 

McConnell, during the interview with the Courier Journal, said that if the House is able to pass a bill, it could be used to revive negotiations between congressional Democrats and the administration.

It “could open the opportunity for discussion about something smaller than what the speaker and the Democratic Senate leader were insisting on at the point of impasse,” he said.

But Pelosi and Schumer have repeatedly rejected attempts by Mnuchin and Meadows to agree on a pared-down coronavirus bill, instead arguing that they should get one large agreement.

Asked earlier this month when the talks would restart, Pelosi indicated it was dependent on the administration raising its price tag to $2 trillion.

Meadows this week also rejected the idea of doing a stand-alone Postal Service bill.

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 told reporters.

Senate Republicans are preparing to introduce a scaled-back version of their roughly $1 trillion coronavirus package that is expected to include $10 billion for the Postal Service. 

Tags Charles Schumer coronavirus relief aid Donald Trump Louis DeJoy mail-in ballot Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi November election Steven Mnuchin U.S. Postal Service
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