A vote is scheduled in the House on Saturday on Democrats’ legislation to provide the United States Postal Service (USPS) with $25 billion to cover revenue losses and reverse service and operational changes made earlier this year.
The Democrat’s Delivering for America Act would also require that all election-related mail, including ballots, be treated as first-class mail to guarantee speedy delivery.
While House Republican Leaders have called out Democrats for manufacturing a postal service crisis that does not exist, including the claim that the USPS cannot handle election mail without additional funding that the new bill provides. Some GOP lawmakers agree that the USPS needs the $25 billion to effectively deal with the pandemic.
A group of 26 Republican members of Congress sent a letter (pdf) in May to GOP leaders urging them to provide additional funding in the sum of $25 billion to the USPS, in the larger pandemic relief package.
“Millions of Americans depend on the Postal Service throughout their daily lives but especially during the coronavirus pandemic USPS is serving an important role. Any interruption to service could be detrimental not only to USPS but also to our constituents across the country,” the Republicans wrote.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in July introduced bipartisan legislation, The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act, to provide $25 billion to the USPS and ensure that mail delivery is not disrupted during the pandemic.
In a July statement, Collins said, “The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act would ensure the Postal Service is able to continue fulfilling its essential mission, while also providing for responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds and laying the groundwork to put the Postal Service on a path to long-term viability. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”
Although Republicans have called for additional funding for the USPS, they have not listed any concerns about the changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, in an effort he says was made to “ensure sustainability for the years and decades ahead.”
After Democrats alleged that DeJoy was trying to thwart the 2020 election in President Trump’s favor, DeJoy said he would suspend any further changes to the USPS.
Not satisfied, the Democrats have insisted he reverse actions to put back mail sorting machines that were taken out and any other changes made this year.
DeJoy told Congress at a hearing Friday that, “As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on-time.”
However Democratic Leaders insist that changes already enacted need to be reversed until after the 2020 elections.
The bill (pdf) reads, “Explicitly reverses any changes already implemented to the operations or policies of the Postal Service that delay mail delivery.”
The legislation also prohibits any changes that would generally affect service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis and any revision of existing service standards.
The bill halts all reduction or closures to post offices, and prohibits any changes to post office hours or overtime pay for postal workers or any other changes that might delay mail delivery.
Democrats want guarantees that no postal routes or sorting machines will be taken out.
The House of Representatives will vote on the Delivering for America Act, Saturday with at least some Republicans also voting in favor of the bill. Yet to become law, it will have to pass the Senate and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that a stand-alone postal service bill is not likely to be put up for a vote in the Senate.