By MARIAM KHAN AND BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — The House voted on Saturday to provide $25 billion in funding to the U.S. Postal Service while blocking operational changes that have slowed down service ahead of the election.
The proposal passed largely along party lines, 257-150, with 26 Republicans voting with Democrats.
The “Delivering for America Act” would require that all official election mail be treated as “first-class mail,” prohibit the removal of mail sorting machines and mailboxes, and reverse any already implemented changes that could delay mail delivery.
Democrats, some Republicans and civil rights organizations have accused Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a donor to President Donald Trump’s campaign, of engineering changes at the agency in an effort to sow distrust in mail-in voting and impact the results of the election as Americans are expected to vote by mail in unprecedented numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“No American should ever have to choose between their health, safety and wellbeing on one hand, and their constitutional right to vote on the other,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Saturday. “Don’t mess with USPS.”
DeJoy, testifying before the Senate on Friday, called the accusations against him “outrageous” and said changes to the Postal Service were necessary to address its poor finances. He said the agency is “fully capable” of delivering ballots in a timely fashion this fall, but he committed to stopping additional operational changes ahead of the election. He did not, however, say he would reverse those already in motion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Saturday said the bill was an attempt to hold DeJoy to his commitment to deliver ballots after his “ambiguous” testimony.
“His comments are one thing, his actions will be another,” she said.
Democrats passed the measure Saturday with some support from Republicans, but most denied the need for new funding and policy changes and accused Democrats of turning the post office into a political football.
“This bill is a sham, it is a shame, it is not needed right now,” Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., said on the House floor Saturday.
“It’s not a real crisis,” said House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., after calling Democrats’ concerns a “conspiracy theory” in a tweet.
On Saturday, Democrats released new data from the USPS showing declines in timely priority mail deliveries this summer and suggested the service issues were “far worse than we were told,” House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has dismissed the need for a standalone bill on the post office, while the White House has threatened a presidential veto.
Moments after the House officially passed its bill, McConnell issued a statement calling the bill a “stunt” and stating that the Senate will not pass it.
“They’ll be hearing from their constituents because this hits home — not receiving your mail in a timely fashion hits home,” Pelosi said of Senate Republicans. “Not receiving your prescriptions, especially for our veterans, hits home in a way that is harmful to our country.”
ABC News’ Mike Levine and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.
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