Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she and other members of the House would be leaving Washington for their August recess despite failing to negotiate a deal with Republicans to provide much-needed relief to Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, the California Democrat is calling her caucus back to the Hill early, saying “lives” and “livelihoods” are at stake — and it’s not because of the coronavirus.
According to The Hill, Pelosi has effectively ordered members of the House to return to D.C. to vote on legislation that she says will “save” the United States Postal Service (USPS) from President Donald Trump.
“Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues Sunday.
She went on: “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman [Carolyn] Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’ which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.”
“Make the Post Office great again”
Pelosi and others in her party have alleged in recent weeks that the Trump administration is waging an all-out war on the USPS. According to The Hill, Democrats are upset with “recent policy changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee and GOP donor” who they say is creating roadblocks at the post office that will cause delays in the tallying of mail-in ballots this November.
President Trump, for his part, has said that DeJoy is “a fantastic man” who will “make the Post Office great again,” according to The Hill, and has maintained allowing widespread vote-by-mail would open the door to election fraud. “Mail-in ballots are very dangerous,” the president told reporters in May, according to a transcript from the White House. “There’s tremendous fraud involved and tremendous illegality.”
But Democrats argue that such a system is necessary amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus. “Americans should not have to choose between their health and their vote,” Pelosi wrote in her Sunday letter.
Pelosi also pointed in her message to colleagues to the hardship she says will be faced by those who won’t be able to receive their Social Security checks if the USPS shuts down, apparently not realizing that a new law requiring Social Security payments to be delivered electronically went into effect during the Barack Obama administration.
Pelosi’s newfound urgency
The House speaker’s newfound urgency certainly represents a change in outlook from last week, when Pelosi seemed far less eager to show up and reach a deal on a far more pressing matter: funding for coronavirus relief. Her reluctance even drew criticism from members of her own party, with California Rep. Ro Khanna (D) saying at an online town hall last week that he thought it was “absurd” that Congress wouldn’t be in session to negotiate a deal on behalf of the American people.
“I think Congress should be in session,” Khanna said Tuesday, according to Fox News. “I think it’s absurd for Congress to be going on a break during a pandemic and a national crisis.”
For his part, President Trump has attempted to offset some of the damage caused by the pandemic with a series of executive orders addressing concerns like unemployment, evictions, student loans, and payroll taxes.
It’s nice to know at least one person in Washington has their eye on the ball here.