House of Representatives passes emergency USPS legislation

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called House of Representatives members back from recess on Saturday, August 22, to vote on a bill to provide emergency funding to the United States Postal Service. The $25 billion measure, largely backed by Democrat House members, is intended to inject extra funding into the struggling USPS and reverse several changes to the Postal Service’s operations made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The bill would halt further removal of mail-sorting machines, stop restrictions on overtime pay for employees, and prioritize election mail as first-class to ensure speedy and effective delivery of mail-in ballots.

House Democrats, including House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney, have urged all members of Congress to support the new bill to avoid further damage to the USPS and to ensure the integrity of the upcoming presidential election. Democrats have asserted that the measures taken by Postmaster DeJoy have significantly slowed mail delivery in numerous areas throughout the country, which could negatively affect millions of Americans during election time. The Oversight panel provided a summary document outlining the decrease in mail processing and delivery efficiency across the country, including a 7.96% slowdown in processing time for first-class mail. Although the measure received some bipartisan support in the House, it is highly unlikely that it will be voted on in the Senate, with some Senate Republicans referring to the bill as a “joke.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the House legislation on Saturday as a “piecemeal postal bill” and cited “overblown conspiracy theories” about threats to the USPS. President Donald Trump has also vowed to veto the House backed bill.

Despite the passage of the USPS legislation in the House, Americans should not expect any additional COVID-19 relief before September. During the brief return from recess, Pelosi declined numerous requests to a pass a bill reinstating unemployment insurance related to COVID-19 asserting that she would not pass a bill that takes too narrow of an approach to combat the pandemic. It appears increasingly unlikely that House Democrats or Senate Republicans will come to any solution in the near future. Many Democrats urge that they have no plans to revisit negotiations until Republicans agree to spend at least $2 trillion on a new relief package. Senate Republicans suggested that they could approve a “skinny” relief bill, which would include additional federal unemployment benefits, increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, and $10 billion to the Postal Service. However, Democrats have already indicated disapproval stating that the proposed legislation falls short.

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