On Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives released the legislation in response to controversial administrative changes at the U.S. Postal Service. As more Americans have become concerned that the changes at the USPS pose a threat to the presidential election in November, the House has outlined a number of protections for the constitutionally mandated service and will vote on the bill this Saturday.
Since Louis DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General in May, he’s implemented rapid-speed cost-cutting and restructuring measures without making details publicly available. Over the ensuing months, USPS workers increasingly sounded the alarm that the institution was being thrown into chaos and that delays in mail delivery should be expected. Dismantling the USPS as a public service has been a long-term project for conservatives, but the combination of a looming election, a pandemic making in-person voting difficult, and a president who is willing to say he’d hobble the USPS to prevent mail-in voting turned the situation into a five-alarm fire.
The legislation released today by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Delivering for America Act, builds on a bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn Mahoney last week. The original bill sought to prevent the USPS from making “implementing or approving any changes to the operations or service levels in effect on January 1, 2020, that would impede prompt, reliable, and efficient service.” But since Rep. Mahoney introduced her proposal, DeJoy said he’ll halt any further changes to the service until after the November 3 election. House Democrats aren’t taking the postmaster general at his word, and have added language that would require the USPS to “reverse any initiative or action that is causing delay in processing or delivery or non-delivery of the mail.”
The revised bill also includes approval for $25 billion in funding for the USPS. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken great pains to point out that the multibillion-dollar figure is what was recommended by the Trump-appointed USPS Board of Governors. Trump has said that he’s standing in the way of that funding because without it “you can’t have universal mail-in voting,” but in recent days has appeared to change his tune. On Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Kelly McEnany said that the administration is “certainly open to looking at the $25 billion.” However, McEnany is a liar who lies a lot.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Monday that “it’s not an issue of money” and that the USPS is well-funded and ready to go. Again, the USPS Board of Governors believes the USPS needs $25 billion, and the slowdown in mail delivery is due to cost-cutting measures. Last week, the Washington Post first reported that the USPS had notified at least 46 states that residents could have their right to vote denied because delays might make it impossible to deliver perfectly valid ballots by the states’ respective deadlines.
Other changes required in the bill include specific prohibitions on the “the removal, decommissioning, or other stoppage of mail sorting machines.” A number of Post Offices have reported that their sorting machines were being deactivated and removed. It’s unclear whether DeJoy’s order to stop changes is being implemented in the 24 hours since it was announced, but in a statement on Wednesday, Pelosi said that in a meeting with the postmaster general this morning, he, “frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.”
The House is expected to pass the Delivering for America Act on Saturday, but it will still need to clear the Republican-controlled Senate. In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell indicated that he merely sees the House bill as an opportunity to renew negotiations over another much-needed pandemic relief package, and he doesn’t expect the Senate to pass “a postal-only bill.”
That’s good news for President Trump who doesn’t want to sign it anyway.