Following Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's vow to suspend changes to U.S. Postal Service operations until after the November election, House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would go further by requiring the complete restoration of mail service to "pre-DeJoy levels" while also providing the agency with $25 billion in additional emergency funding.
The bill, an updated version of Rep. Carolyn Maloney's (D-N.Y.) Delivering for America Act, would also require that all ballots and other election-related mail be treated as first class to ensure timely delivery.
As Roll Call reported, "For a long time, postal workers have informally treated election mail as first class items and afforded them the speed their 20-cent bulk price point ordinarily would not allow. The Postal Service has warned some states that without the official first class markings, applications and ballots may not be expedited this year. The House Democrats' bill would codify this informal prioritization of election mail."
The Democratic legislation would restore USPS operations to levels that were in effect on January 1, 2020 and bar any service changes until either the end of the coronavirus pandemic or the end of 2021, whichever comes later.
A vote on the measure is set for Saturday, Democratic leaders said.
My Delivering for America Act will restore delivery standards and operations to pre-DeJoy levels at #USPS. When we hear from him on Monday, @oversightdems WILL get answers. #DontMessWithUSPS https://t.co/nN6788qg0J
— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) August 19, 2020
The bill was unveiled a day after DeJoy announced in the face of immense public backlash that he is "suspending" changes to USPS policies until after the presidential election to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."
Union leaders, civil rights groups, and lawmakers immediately denounced DeJoy's walkback as inadequate, noting that he did not commit to completely undoing changes—such as the removal of mail sorting machines—that have contributed to major mail backlogs across the nation.
"It should not have taken the Postmaster General this long to recognize that his actions were causing major delays—in rural and urban communities, and among veterans, seniors, and families across the country," Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. "His announcement... is certainly necessary, but it is inadequate to remedy the damage already done and ensure ballots will be delivered on time this November."
"Every single member of the House should vote in favor of our legislation this coming Saturday," said Maloney. "Our bill will do two things: it will restore previous delivery standards and operations throughout the coronavirus crisis, and it will give the Postal Service the funding it needs to ensure that mail, medicines, and mail-in ballots are delivered in a timely way."