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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought members of Congress back to work over the weekend to develop legislation concerning the U.S. Postal Service, which Democrats believe is being undermined ahead of the November election. The agency’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, testified on Capitol Hill again Monday and rejected those accusations. William Brangham reports.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought House members in over the weekend to work on legislation concerning the U.S. Postal Service, which Democrats believe is being tampered with ahead of the November election.
As William Brangham reports, the new head of the service again testified today on Capitol Hill, and rejected those accusations.
Back before Congress again today, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy repeated his vow that the Postal Service is ready to meet the ballot crush this November.
This sacred duty is my number one priority between now and Election Day.
It was his second visit to Capitol Hill amid growing concerns that operational changes under his tenure, from cutbacks to overtime, to the removal of hundreds of mail sorting machines across the country, are causing troubling delays nationwide and could endanger the delivery of mail-in ballots this fall.
DeJoy told members of the House Oversight Committee that he was not responsible for those changes, which have now been paused until after the election.
I did not direct the removal of blue collection boxes or the removal of mail processing equipment. Any further assertions by the media or elected officials is furthering a false narrative to the American people.
Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, challenged DeJoy for downplaying the impact of his policies in his Senate testimony on Friday.
She pointed to leaked internal Postal Service documents showing widespread delays in delivery since he took the job.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.:
If any other CEO had this kind of plummeting record in his first two months on the job, I can't imagine why he would be kept on.
Republicans took to his defense, calling the delays temporary growing pains as DeJoy works to reform the agency.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky:
And I'm disappointed at the hysterical frenzy whipped up around this issue by my colleagues on the left and their friends in the media.
Is the postmaster general sabotaging the election by removing blue postal boxes and mail sorting machines? No.
The hearing turned testy when some lawmakers demanded DeJoy clarify his policies moving forward on that same front.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.:
Will you put the…
… high-speed machines back?
… outrage — No, I will not.
Rep. Stephen Lynch:
You will not?
You will not? Well, there you go.
Other conflicts centered around accusations from Democrats that DeJoy, who is an ally of President Trump and was a major Republican donor, is trying to influence the 2020 election.
President Trump has repeatedly disparaged the use of mail-in voting. On Twitter today, he again made the untrue claim it leads to fraud and would set the table for — quote — "a big mess."
This followed a weekend tweet seeming to discourage people from voting by mail by claiming, again with no evidence, that in-person ballot drop boxes are not — quote — "COVID-sanitized."
While DeJoy said today these comments were not helpful, he was steadfast in denying any accusation of political intent, and framed the changes to the Postal Service as cost-cutting measures.
All my actions have to do with improvements to the Postal Service.
Am I the only one in this room that understands that we have a $10-billion-a-year loss?
On Saturday, the House approved $25 billion in emergency funding for the agency and reversed those operational changes.
More than two dozen Republicans backed the measure, but their colleagues in the Senate are unlikely to vote on it, and the White House has threatened to veto it.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.
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