Pelosi to call House back into session to vote on USPS bill

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she is calling the House back into session over the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service, setting up a political showdown amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency ahead of the election.

Pelosi is cutting short lawmakers' summer recess with a vote expected the Saturday after the Democratic National Convention on legislation that would prohibit changes at the agency as tensions mount. President Donald Trump's new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, has sparked nationwide outcry over delays, new prices and cutbacks just as millions of Americans will be trying to vote by mail to avoid polling places during the coronavirus outbreak.

“In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central," Pelosi wrote Sunday in a letter to colleagues, who had been expected to be out of session until September. “Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the president.”

The decision to recall the House, made after a weekend of high-level leadership discussions, carries a political punch. Voting in the House will highlight the issue after the weeklong convention nominating Joe Biden as the party's presidential pick and pressure the Republican-held Senate to respond. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home for a summer recess.

Earlier Sunday, Democratic lawmakers demanded that leaders of the Postal Service testify at an emergency oversight hearing Aug. 24 on mail delays.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee said it wants to hear from DeJoy and from the chair of the Postal Service board of governors, Robert “Mike” Duncan.

With heightened scrutiny of its operations, the Postal Service is now requesting a temporary preelection rate increase, from mid-October through Christmas, although not for first-class letters.

The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether the two men would appear before the House committee. But it said Sunday it would stop removing its distinctive blue mailboxes through mid-November following complaints from customers and members of Congress that the collection boxes were being taken away.