Schumer presses postal board on selection of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general

In addition, Schumer asked that the board provide a “complete and fulsome explanation” of the roles President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin played in selecting DeJoy.

DeJoy has come under fire in recent weeks from Democrats over delays in mail delivery, particularly after The Washington Post reported that USPS warned election officials in 46 states that some ballots in November may not be delivered in time because of inconsistencies with different state deadlines and the agency’s delivery capacity.

In addition, Democrats have criticized DeJoy for trying to make operational changes to the Postal Service ahead of the election and accused the USPS of trying to undermine the election by encouraging election administrators to move to a higher postal rate.

DeJoy said Tuesday he would suspend “long-standing operational initiatives” until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

Schumer, who spoke with DeJoy Tuesday, also sent a follow-up letter to him Wednesday asking for more detail about which operational changes would be paused and a list of locations where mail processing equipment and collection boxes were recently removed, among other issues.

Some Senate Republicans have also raised concern about delays at USPS. In a letter sent this week, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) requested DeJoy work with Congress and meet with him to discuss potential reforms to the Postal Service.

DeJoy is scheduled to testify Friday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee’s chair, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), said he wanted to provide DeJoy the opportunity to testify before the Republican-led committee ahead of his Monday appearance before the House Oversight Committee.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also spoke with DeJoy Wednesday and said she emphasized that his announcement was not a solution.

“The Postmaster General’s alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked,” she said in a statement.

Pelosi will hold a rare Saturday vote on legislation that would provide $25 billion to USPS, briefly interrupting the August recess.

House Democratic leaders are hoping to pick up bipartisan support for the USPS bill, which would also block the controversial organizational and operational changes at the postal service. Democrats want to insulate themselves against GOP-led accusations that they’ve turned the Postal Service into a partisan issue in order to score political points.

But House GOP leaders informed Republican lawmakers during a conference call on Wednesday that they plan to formally whip against the Democrats’ postal package, according to sources on the call. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and his top deputies have begun referring to the postal service controversy as a “conspiracy.” That means widespread bipartisan support is unlikely, though a handful of Republicans — especially those in tough races — could still support the bill.

During the now-stalled coronavirus negotiations, GOP negotiators had agreed to $10 billion in funding for USPS. Trump has given mixed signals about his support for USPS funding, though chief of staff Mark Meadows has suggested that the president would sign off on more USPS money if it’s paired with other coronavirus-related priorities — a sentiment Meadows reiterated on the GOP conference call.

Trump on Wednesday assailed the House hearing, which will take place as the Republican National Convention begins, tagging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who has no say on the House schedule.

“Why are Republicans allowing the Democrats to have ridiculous Post Office hearings on Saturday & Monday, just before and during our Convention,” Trump tweeted. “Let them hold them NOW (during their Convention) or after our Convention is over. Always playing right into their hands! @senatemajldr.”

McConnell said earlier this week that USPS would be “just fine” ahead of the November election.

Senate Republicans are currently reviewing text of a “skinny” coronavirus relief bill that is expected to provide $10 billion to USPS, by converting a loan into a grant. That smaller relief package is not expected to get support from Senate Democrats. A Senate Democratic aide said Wednesday, “It’s pretty clear that Republicans still don’t have a clue as to how to meet the urgent needs of Americans nor how to correct for President Trump’s total failure to effectively fight the spread of COVID-19.”

Zach Montellaro contributed to this story.

Originally published: 2020-08-19 16:49:31

Source link – www.politico.com

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