High-ranking Democrats are calling on the Postmaster General to testify before an emergency oversight hearing in the House of Representatives later this month to address voting concerns. Lawmakers are worried about the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to process an expected influx of mail-in ballots this fall stemming from the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, Democrats summoned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Robert Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, to testify at a hearing about changes at the Postal Service before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on August 24. “The Postmaster General and top Postal Service leadership must 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,” according to a joint statement from Democratic congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
A Postal Service spokesperson declined to comment on the calls for DeJoy and Duncan to testify on Aug. 24.
The letter from Democrats—which included Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the House Oversight chair, and Sen. Gary C. Peters, a ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Postal Service—also accused DeJoy of aiding President Donald Trump in attempts to make it harder to vote. The letter expressed concerns about the “recent, sweeping and dangerous operational changes at the Postal Service that are slowing the mail and jeopardizing the integrity of the election.”
Trump has said his resistance to funding the Postal Service is tied to his desire to curb mail voting efforts. “They need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” the President said in a Fox Business Network interview Thursday. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
The Postal Service sent notice to 46 states and the District of Columbia that voters’ ballots may not be counted on time, even if they are mailed in by state deadlines. Concerns have also been raised about the removal of mail collection boxes prior to November’s election, which have been documented with alarm on social media. A Postal Service spokesperson said the agency would “postpone removing collection boxes for a period of 90 days” because of “recent customer concerns.”
High-ranking Democrats have ramped up criticism over mail delays and its potential impact on voting in the last week.
Schumer said in a press conference Sunday that he would introduce legislation to ensure that all election mail be treated as First Class, overtime pay be restored, staffing shortages because of COVID-19 be resolved with replacement workers and mail-sorting machines that have been “destroyed” be put back to use.
On Friday, Congressional Democrats sent a 10-page letter to DeJoy after Trump’s refusal to approve an emergency funding package that included $25 billion for the Postal Service. They also requested additional information about the reason for policy changes that would slow down the mail, noting the potentially harmful effects on voting, as well as possible dangerous delays in receiving prescription medicines and other essential goods.
Two days earlier, Congressional Democrats sent a separate letter to DeJoy and expressed concern that he is “implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing Post Offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class.”
Meanwhile, the Postal Service’s internal watchdog is looking into recent policy changes and ethics issues related to DeJoy following a request for a review from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, CNN first reported.