Postal Service Bill Could Spark COVID-19 Negotiations
It remains unclear when additional aid will be given to those suffering
On Saturday, August 22, 2020, the House will vote on legislation to provide $25 billion to address funding shortfalls and block cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that Democrats worry could impede mail-in voting in the November elections. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has resisted calls to pass pieces of COVID-19 relief legislation separately, some lawmakers hope the House interrupting its recess this week could rekindle negotiations on a larger pandemic relief package.
Talks between Pelosi and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and administration officials have resulted in little progress to date with GOP lawmakers insisting another smaller package be implemented.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told The Louisville Courier Journal that the House returning to session this weekend “could open the opportunity for discussion about something smaller than what the speaker and the Democratic Senate leader were insisting on at the point of impasse.”
Pelosi and Schumer said Democrats have offered to cut $1 trillion off of their roughly $3.4 trillion package that passed the House this spring if Republicans agreed to add roughly the same amount to its roughly $1 trillion bill introduced by Senate Republicans last month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows rejected that offer and say Democrats should want to try to strike a deal on a “skinny” plan if it means keeping the economy from cratering any further.
More than half the Democrats in the House signed on to a letter this week urging Pelosi to use the Saturday session to pass legislation reviving the $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefits that expired at the end of July, but Pelosi so far has confined the session to addressing USPS issues. The House will vote on legislation drafted by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service and provides $25 billion in funding to support the agency.
Earlier this week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that the USPS would suspend service reductions and other cost-cutting initiatives until after the November elections, but Pelosi and other Democratic leaders said DeJoy’s backpedaling was not enough.
“The Postmaster General’s alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked,” Pelosi said. “The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.”
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