By LUCIEN BRUGGEMAN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — In a major reversal, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday he will suspend several cost-cutting initiatives in an effort “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
DeJoy, a longtime Republican financier, has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks for enacting a series of measures meant to streamline the Postal Service, which has long suffered financially.
But critics say those measures have slowed mail service, and with more Americans expected to vote by mail in the upcoming election, the changes have prompted questions about whether they are part of a concerted effort to undermine absentee voting — a platform the president has repeatedly, and without evidence, said would lead to election fraud.
Congressional Democrats had demanded that he stop the service-related cutbacks and on Tuesday, DeJoy announced he would halt many of those initiatives — including approval of overtime for mail carriers and halting the removal of mailboxes and mail-sorting machines — until after the election.
“Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards,” DeJoy said in a statement. “The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day.”
Taking a position contrary to Trump — who has said the Postal Service is a “joke” and ill-equipped to handle “millions and millions of ballots” — DeJoy said it’s fully capable of handling the expected surge in mail-in ballots this year and will do so regardless of any additional funding from Congress.
In the middle of a live POLITICO interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was slipped a note from an aide informing her of DeJoy’s announcement that he will suspend the operational changes until after the election.
“Well, he should,” Pelosi said, without skipping a beat. “They felt the heat. And that’s what we were trying to do is to make it too hot for them to handle.”
His announcement comes just after DeJoy agreed to testify at a Senate hearing on Friday and again next Monday before House lawmakers.
ABC News’ Mariam Khan contributed to this report.
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