(Headline USA) Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she is calling the House back into session over the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service.
Pelosi is cutting short lawmakers’ summer recess with a vote expected the Saturday after the Democratic National Convention on legislation that would prohibit changes at the agency.
President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, has sparked left-wing outcry over delays, new prices and cutbacks just as millions of Americans will be trying to vote by mail to avoid polling places during the coronavirus outbreak.
“In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central,” Pelosi wrote Sunday in a letter to colleagues, who had been expected to be out of session until September. “Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the president.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home for a summer recess.
Earlier Sunday, Democratic lawmakers demanded that leaders of the Postal Service testify at an emergency oversight hearing Aug. 24 on mail delays.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee said it wants to hear from DeJoy and from the chair of the Postal Service board of governors, Robert “Mike” Duncan.
With heightened scrutiny of its operations, the Postal Service is now requesting a temporary preelection rate increase, from mid-October through Christmas, although not for first-class letters.
The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether the two men would appear before the House committee.
But it said Sunday it would stop removing its distinctive blue mailboxes through mid-November following complaints from customers and members of Congress that the collection boxes were being taken away.
“Given the recent customer concerns the Postal Service will postpone removing boxes for a period of 90 days while we evaluate our customers’ concerns,” Postal Service spokeswoman Kimberly Frum said.
House Democrats are expected to discuss the lawmakers’ schedule details on a conference call on Monday and were likely to be in session next Saturday, a senior Democratic aide said on condition of anonymity because the plans were private.
The legislation being prepared for the vote, the “Delivering for America Act,” would prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on Jan. 1.
DeJoy, a major Republican donor and ally of the president who took control of the agency in June, has pledged to modernize the money-losing agency to make it more efficient, and has eliminated most overtime for postal workers, imposed restrictions on transportation and reduced of the quantity and use of mail-processing equipment.
Trump said last week that he was blocking a $25 billion emergency injection sought by the Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election money to the states.
The money for the post office is intended to help with processing an expected surge of mail-in ballots. Both funding requests have been tied up in congressional negotiations over a new coronavirus relief package.
On Saturday, Trump said he supports increasing money for the Postal Service.
He said he was refusing to capitulate to Democrats on other parts of the relief package, including funding for states weighed down by debt accumulated before the pandemic.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.