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Pelosi Ends House Recess, Calls Congress Back Into Session Over USPS Panic
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 13: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during a news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center August 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Pelosi highlighted the differences between House Democrats and the Trump Administration in their negotiations over coronavirus relief legislation, saying, "We're miles apart in our values." (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) abruptly ended the House of Representatives’ summer recess Monday, calling Members back into session, even as the Democratic National Convention kicks off, to hold hearings over whether the Trump administration is deliberately handicapping the United States Postal Service in order to undermine mail-in voting.

Pelosi wants to hold hearings, she told Members in a statement issued Monday morning, on whether the Postmaster General is executing a planned USPS overhaul in order to impact the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by delaying — or even temporarily suspending — mail delivery.

The Democratic speaker, who is due to attend the DNC this week, at least virtually, told her colleagues to return to DC in order to address President Donald Trump’s “campaign to sabotage the election.”

“Alarmingly, the Postmaster General — a Trump mega-donor — has acted as an accomplice in the president’s campaign to cheat in the election, as he launches sweeping new operational changes that degrade delivery standards and delay the mail,” Pelosi wailed in her statement.

“The Postal Service itself has warned that voters — even if they send in their ballots by state deadlines — may be disenfranchised in 46 states and in Washington, D.C., by continued delays,” she continued. “This constitutes a grave threat to the integrity of the election and to our very democracy.”

It’s not clear that any of the planned updates to the USPS will have any effect on November’s voting, particularly in states where there is no universal mail-in voting option.

The kickoff event to ongoing panic over the post office seems to have been a Republican decision not to include a $25 billion emergency relief check to the USPS in their fourth coronavirus relief package, introduced earlier in August — a bill that is now in limbo as Democrats and Republicans struggle to come to any agreement on the matter.

Democrats, who included the $25 billion expenditure in their own coronavirus relief package, passed in late May,  defended the massive handout by noting that the USPS could face a dramatic uptick in mail volume in the weeks leading up to the November election. Republicans claimed the $25 billion was unnecessary, and a way of Democrats trying to use the urgency of coronavirus-related economic issues to give a handout to allies.

President Donald Trump, though, set off a firestorm of panic last week when he explained his opposition to the $25 billion bailout by mentioning the post office’s connection to November balloting.

“Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview. “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.”

In her statement Monday, Pelosi attacked the president directly on the matter and demanded that “that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser and top donor to Trump who took over the Postal Service in June, and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Michael Duncan, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, testify before the House Oversight Committee on Aug. 24,” per NBC News.

Reports also indicate that Pelosi will bring a bill, authored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to the floor — the Delivering for America Act — that would prohibit any changes to the USPS for at least a year.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell force the Senate to return from its recess to hold similar hearings.

“I call on Leader McConnell to bring the Senate back into session to quickly act on the House’s legislation that will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service so that people can get their paychecks, medicines and other necessities delivered on time, and to ensure our elections will remain completely free and fair,” Schumer said late Sunday.

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