In an extraordinary Saturday session, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill reversing recent controversial operational changes in the U.S. Postal Service and provides $25 billion in emergency funds to reinforce the agency ahead of the November election when many voters are expected to cast mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill passed 257-150 in the Democratic-controlled House, earning some support from Republicans who expressed concerns about delayed mail, CNN reports.
The vote comes amid a national uproar over mail interference, putting the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy at the center of an unprecedented election year.
DeJoy, an ally of President Donald Trump, sparked widespread backlash for implementing cost-cutting measures, such as removing postal boxes and reducing post office hours, in an effort to disenfranchise those seeking to vote by mail during the pandemic. Many have also accused DeJoy of coordinating with the White House to undermine the vote by mail effort.
During a congressional testimony Friday, DeJoy said he would not restore the cuts that have already been made and was unable to provide senators with a plan for how he will handle the influx of mail-in ballots this November. He also refused to reinstall mail-sorting machines that have been removed from post offices across the country despite an analysis showing that his policy changes would affect veterans, the elderly and families who send financial documents by mail.
The bill is likely to meet significant opposition in the GOP-led Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) blasted the House bill in a tweet just minutes after the vote, accusing Democrats of promoting a “conspiracy theory.”
“House Democrats have spent weeks ignoring the urgent needs of American workers and families, but they rushed back to Washington the instant that overblown conspiracy theories about the U.S. Postal Service convinced them their own jobs might be in jeopardy,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) fired back in a tweet, saying that House Democrats “are doing their jobs to help fund @USPS & protect it from sabotage. Just like they did their jobs & passed another COVID-19 bill months ago.”
“Show some political courage & finally stand up to Trump, @SenateMajLdr McConnell,” she wrote. “Call back the Senate & let us vote.”
The @HouseDemocrats are doing their jobs to help fund @USPS & protect it from sabotage. Just like they did their jobs & passed another COVID-19 bill months ago. Show some political courage & finally stand up to Trump, @SenateMajLdr McConnell. Call back the Senate & let us vote.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 22, 2020
Trump has said that he wants to block agency emergency funding for the Postal Service because he opposes expanding access to vote by mail.