US Democrats stepped up pressure on Sunday (16 August) against a cost-cutting campaign by President Donald Trump’s appointed Postal Service chief that they fear will hold up mail-in ballots in November’s election, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling lawmakers back and several states considering legal action.
Top Democrats in Congress called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and another top postal official to testify this month at a hearing on a wave of cuts that has slowed mail delivery across the country, alarming lawmakers ahead of the 3 November election when up to half of US voters could cast ballots by mail.
Democrats have accused Trump, who is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in opinion polls, of trying to hamstring the cash-strapped Postal Service to suppress mail-in voting.
Trump has repeatedly and without evidence said that a surge in mail-in voting would lead to fraud. Voting by mail is nothing new in the United States, as one in four voters cast ballots that way in 2016.
Several Democratic state attorneys general told Reuters they were in discussions about potential legal action to stop Postal Service changes that could affect the election outcome.
“It is outrageous that Donald Trump would attempt to undermine the US Postal Service for electoral gain,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that the Republican president’s actions raised constitutional, regulatory and procedural questions.
Healy added that counterparts in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, North Carolina, Washington and other states were conferring.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein declined to say how many states were participating in the legal discussions, adding that North Carolina residents could request ballots now and general ballots would be sent to voters starting on 4 September.
“There are many states that share this concern about what the president and the postmaster general are doing to the Postal Service, and are reviewing all legal options available to us to protect the integrity of these elections,” Stein told Reuters.
House back to Washington
Pelosi, the country’s top elected Democrat, said on Sunday she was calling the Democratic-controlled House back to Washington later this week to vote on legislation to protect the Postal Service from what she called Trump’s “campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters.”
A senior Democratic aide said House lawmakers would likely return on Saturday to vote on the bill, which would prohibit changes to Postal Service levels that were in place on 1 January 2020.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there were no scheduling updates for the Republican-controlled Senate.
But Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate locked in a tight re-election race, said on Twitter that the Senate should return this week to consider legislation to provide the Postal Service up to $25 billion in coronavirus funding.