Pelosi weighs bringing House back early to address Postal Service crisis

Pelosi weighs bringing House back early to address Postal Service crisis


Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are considering cutting short the August recess and bringing the chamber back into session to deal with the unfolding crisis at the U.S. Postal Service, according to Democratic sources.

The House could return to vote with the next two weeks, the Democratic sources suggested. The chamber is currently in recess, with no votes scheduled until the week of Sept. 14.

Pelosi and other top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), discussed the possibility of returning early during an emergency leadership call Saturday afternoon.

Democrats are looking to address organizational issues at the Postal Service in the coming weeks, not to provide additional funding at this time, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

One option would be to vote on a modified version of a bill introduced by House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) earlier this week that would prohibit USPS from implementing a planned organizational overhaul that critics maintain would handicap mail-in voting.

Other top Democrats also floated addressing other issues, including expired federal unemployment benefits and voting rights. But Democratic sources said the immediate focus — at least for now — is preserving the Postal Service ahead of the election.

On Friday, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a scathing statement accusing President Donald Trump and Republicans of waging an “all-out assault on the Postal Service and its role in ensuring the integrity of the 2020 election.” Their statement came after Trump said he opposes a federal infusion of funds to save the flailing postal service because he doesn’t support mail-in voting.

“The President made plain that he will manipulate the operations of the Post Office to deny eligible voters the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “The President’s own words confirm: he needs to cheat to win.”

Trump has suggested that he’s opposed to giving more money to the Postal Service because of the expected wave of millions of mail-in ballots in November due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He has also offered strong praise for Louis DeJoy, a businessman and Trump donor who was recently appointed postmaster general. Democrats have suggested DeJoy is revamping the Postal Service’s operations to aid Trump’s reelection campaign.

“The Post Office is a catastrophe,” Trump said during a press conference Saturday at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. “And obviously if you’re going to do these millions of ballots out of nowhere, [DeJoy is] going to obviously need funding. But the Democrats aren’t willing to provide other things and therefore they’re not going to get the funding for that.”

Frustration has been growing in both parties over the lack of response to the U.S. economic situation while Congress remains in recess. On Friday, roughly a half-dozen House members spoke by phone with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to discuss ways to break the impasse.

The group, dubbed the Problem Solvers Caucus, included members of both parties, including swing district Democrats like Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.).

But congressional leaders have failed to reach a wide-ranging coronavirus deal despite weeks of back and forth negotiations between the White House and Democratic leaders. Both chambers have recessed for the traditional August recess.

House Democrats included $25 billion for the USPS in their coronavirus bill in May, along with an additional $3.6 billion in election security funding. The White House and Democratic leaders tentatively agreed to as much as $10 billion for the Postal Service in their negotiations, but that was contingent on the rest of the agreement being nailed down, which wasn’t anywhere near happening.

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