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House Democrats are pushing to pass a bill that would end U.S. Postal Service cutbacks until the end of the coronavirus pandemic. The vote comes on the heels of criticisms against the Trump administration over major changes at the Postal Service.
On August 19, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that Democrats would move forward with a vote on the “Delivering for America Act,” which would prevent the Postal Service from implementing any changes to its service or operations. The bill aims to make sure the service maintains its integrity during the election process despite changes already made to the agency.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faced criticism from Democrats, activists and civil rights organizations after eliminating overtime for carriers, removing postal boxes and mails sorting machines, and reducing post office hours, according to The New York Times.
Pelosi said she spoke to DeJoy about the recent changes he implemented and his decision to pause those changes to appease critics who accused the Trump administration of trying to suppress voters ahead of the 2020 elections.
“The Postmaster General’s alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked. The Postmaster General 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. All of these changes directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“The Postal Service is Election Central during the pandemic, and Democrats will not allow the President to force Americans to choose between their health and their vote.”
DeJoy, a businessman and Trump ally who took over as Postmaster General in June, said in a statement that he was suspending the changes “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.” The changes will be suspended until after the election.
The pause in changes, however, has not appeased lawmakers. DeJoy will testify before the Republican-led Senate on Friday, August 21, to publicly answer questions about the Trump administration’s modifications to the Postal Service. He will also appear before the Democratic-led House’s Oversight Committee on Monday, August 24, along with USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan.
Could USPS Changes Affect Mail-In Voting?
There has been a rapid shift to mail-in voting in many states due to the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the 2020 election, states like Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah were the only states that gave voters the right to vote in all elections by mail.
Many worried that DeJoy’s changes to the Postal Service would further slow down mail delivery, thus severely affecting mail-in voting during the general election. Further increasing those concerns was a notice the Postal Service sent to 46 states that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail will arrive in time to be counted, The Washington Post reported.
In response, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit claiming the changes made by USPS were implemented in violation of federal law and have caused widespread voter disenfranchisement.
“Our lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP asks that these changes are immediately suspended, as they were implemented in violation of federal law,” Sam Spital, LDF’s Director of Litigation, said in a statement. “It is critical that the USPS resume the prioritization of important letter mail, including ballots, to preserve the integrity of the upcoming election – and to ensure that all Americans are confident that their ballots and other important mail will be delivered promptly and reliably.”
To learn more about mail-in voting, listen to the first episode of America the Voiceless on Spotify, Apple Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.