Amid outcry, postmaster general to testify before House
Facing a public backlash over mail delays, the Trump administration scrambled to respond Monday as the House prepared an emergency vote to halt delivery interruptions and service changes that Democrats warned could imperil the November election.
The Postal Service said it has stopped removing mailboxes and mail-sorting machines amid an outcry from lawmakers. President Donald Trump flatly denied he was asking for the mail to be delayed even as he leveled fresh criticism on universal ballots and mail-in voting.
“Wouldn’t do that,” Trump told reporters Monday at the White House. “I have encouraged everybody: Speed up the mail, not slow the mail.”
Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will testify next Monday before Congress, along with the chairman of the Postal Service board of governors.
Democrats and some Republicans say actions by the new postmaster general, a Trump ally and a major Republican donor, have endangered millions of Americans who rely on the post office to obtain prescription drugs and other needs, including an expected surge in mail-in voting this fall.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back into session over the crisis at the Postal Service, setting up a political showdown amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency ahead of the election.
Pelosi cut short lawmakers’ summer recess with a vote expected Saturday on legislation that would prohibit changes at the agency. The package will also include $25 billion to shore up the Postal Service, which faces continued financial losses amid declines in first-class and business mail, even as costs have increased significantly because of the coronavirus pandemic. The agency has had to pay for personal protective equipment and increased sick leave for workers who became ill or chose to stay home in fear of the virus.
DeJoy, a former supply-chain CEO who took over the Postal Service in June, has sparked nationwide 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.
Trump on Monday defended DeJoy, but also criticized postal operations and claimed that universal mail-in ballots would be “a disaster.”
“I want to make the post office great again,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.” Later at the White House, he denied asking for a mail-delivery slow down.
Trump told reporters he wants “to have a post office that runs without losing billions and billions of dollars a year.″
The decision to recall the House carries a political punch. Voting in the House will highlight the issue after the weeklong Democratic National Convention nominating Joe Biden as the party’s presidential pick and pressure the Republican-held Senate to respond. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home for a summer recess.