Democrats Demand McConnell Bring Senate Back Into Session to 'Protect USPS and Our Election'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks on the Democratic presidential primary campaign trail in 2019. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Democrats Demand McConnell Bring Senate Back Into Session to 'Protect USPS and Our Election'

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had directed House members to return to Washington, D.C. for an emergency vote Saturday on legislation to reverse Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's recent policy changes.

After Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Sunday she was calling members back from recess to Washington, D.C. early to address the "devastating effects" of President Donald Trump's efforts to "sabotage" the November election by using the United States Postal Service to disenfranchise voters, Democrats in the upper chamber urged GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to follow suit.

During a Monday morning interview with NBC's "Today," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) discussed the recent problems with the USPS--including the service's warning to 46 states that "it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted" and demands for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify before Congress, which has since been scheduled for next week.

"Good for Nancy Pelosi for bringing the House back. I believe that Mitch McConnell needs to bring the Senate back as well. I called for that publicly yesterday," Warren said. "People depend on the post office. We're depending on it for our democracy, for votes, but people also depend on it to get their retirement checks and their Social Security. People depend on it to get medications through the mail."

"This idea that Donald Trump is gonna do everything he can to destroy the post office because he knows he's losing this election--this is fundamentally wrong," added Warren, who has endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. "We all see what's happening here, so I think Nancy is doing exactly the right thing. We're going to keep up the pressure--put the pressure on Mitch McConnell."

"Speaker Pelosi is doing the right thing," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted early Monday. "Mitch, call the Senate into session so we can protect USPS and our election. Not to mention stranding the country with no [Covid-19] bill because you Republicans can't figure this out. Come on!"

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) delivered a similar message in a statement Sunday following Pelosi's announcement that she will reconvene the lower chamber next Saturday for a vote on legislation that would reverse DeJoy's "damaging changes" at the Postal Service, which have led to delays and concerns about the coming election.

"I call on Leader McConnell to bring the Senate back into session to quickly act on the House's legislation that will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service so that people can get their paychecks, medicines, and other necessities delivered on time, and to ensure our elections will remain completely free and fair," the minority leader said.

Schumer was among the senators who joined a Monday letter, led by Warren, to the Postal Service Board of Governors demanding that they fulfill their obligation to act in the public interest and immediately reverse the policy changes put in place by DeJoy, a Republican megadonor.

The letter, which accused Trump and DeJoy of sabotaging the USPS to undermine the ability of Americans to participate in the 2020 general election, also signed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Schumer was joined by a local letter carriers union leader at a U.S. post office in Auburn, New York on Monday. The minority leader declared that "what has been--and continues--to go on with the Postal Service, the undermining and destructive policies that are so clearly intent on upending a system that has worked for generations, has simply got to stop."

"I'm pushing new action here to undo the changes and get DeJoy to back off," Schumer said. "Moreover, we will use the letter of the law to call the postmaster for hearings this week while driving legislation to fix the mess he's purposely made. Bottom-line, we will not stand for the in-your-face slowing down of the mail and the undermining of Americans who depend on medications, VA benefits, paychecks, even food, and we will not allow of this to take place all in an effort to hobble the November election--no way."

The letter and statements from lawmakers on Monday came after Sanders told told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that "what you are witnessing is a president of the United States who is doing everything he can to suppress the vote, make it harder for people to engage in mail-in balloting at a time when people will be putting their lives on the line by having to go out to a polling station and vote."

The senator's comments came in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sparked increased demands for wide-scale mail-in voting--calls that have led Trump to not only push for disruptive changes within the USPS but also issue baseless attacks on voting by mail. Sanders added in his interview Sunday: "This is a crisis for American democracy. We have got to act and act now."

As Common Dreams reported earlier Monday, a coalition of advocacy groups is planning nationwide demonstrations calling for DeJoy's removal and demanding that lawmakers "save the post office" from Trump. Those events are set to occur as the House votes on legislation that will reportedly incorporate Rep. Carolyn Maloney's (D-N.Y.) Delivering for America Act.

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