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Democrats call for hearing with postmaster general about ‘dangerous’ changes to USPS ahead of election

United States Postal Service (Alexander Marks/WikiCommons)

Congressional Democratic leaders on Sunday called on the postmaster general and the head of the Postal Service Board of Governors to testify in a hearing about “dangerous operational changes” they say could threaten the integrity of the November election, which is expected to see a high volume of mailed-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement, Democrats called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Chairman of the USPS Board of Governors Robert Duncan to “testify before Congress about recent, sweeping and dangerous operational changes at the Postal Service that are slowing the mail and jeopardizing the integrity of the election.” DeJoy was scheduled to testify before a House panel on Sept. 17, but House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said his testimony was “particularly urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays at postal facilities across the country.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Sen. Gary Peters, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in the statement that DeJoy and Duncan must explain “why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election.”

They said the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on Aug. 24 to “examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections.”

The hearing is scheduled ahead of the opening of the Republican National Convention that same evening.

The Democratic leaders also urged Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, to hold hearings “as soon as next week.”

On Friday, the USPS warned election officials around the country that even if ballots are requested ahead of state deadlines and mailed back quickly some may not be delivered in time to be counted.

Another move that had sparked concern was the removal of mail collection boxes, which was reported in several Western states. In response to concerns that the removals could hinder people’s ability to vote, a USPS spokesman told CNN they would stop the process in 16 Western states and parts of two others until after the election.

One of the moves that Democrats see as part of “the sabotage of the Postal Service” involves the reported removal of mail sorting machines from some post offices around the U.S.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Democrats are spinning a “narrative that’s not based on facts” and that the sorting machine removal is part of a “normal process of taking them” for “re-gearing.”

“There’s no sorting machines that are going offline between now and the election,” Meadows said. “That’s something that my Democrat friends are trying to do to stoke fear out there. That’s not happening.”


© 2020 USA Today