Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee about the recent budget cuts and service changes to the United States Postal Service (USPS) prior to the November election.
House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat of New York, confirmed the news in a statement released on Monday, adding Robert Duncan, the chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, also agreed to testify.
"I'm pleased that the Postmaster General will testify voluntarily before the Oversight Committee on Monday (24 August) about the sweeping operational and organisational changes he has been making to the Postal Service," Ms Maloney said.
She added: "The American people want their mail, medicines, and mail-in ballots delivered in a timely way, and they certainly do not want drastic changes and delays in the midst of a global pandemic just months before the election."
The hearing will come just a few days after the House is set to vote on legislation addressing budget and services changes made by the USPS amid the coronavirus pandemic, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled for Saturday.
Ms Pelosi called all House lawmakers back to Washington DC so the vote could happen on Saturday. The lawmakers were on their scheduled August recess, with the next vote on legislation not expected until September. But concerns surrounding the USPS' capability to handle excess service demands with mail-in ballots for the upcoming election has encouraged Democratic lawmakers to prioritise legislation.
The new legislation, if passed, could provide $25bn in funding to the USPS as an addition to the next coronavirus relief package. Also, $3.5bn would be designated towards services within USPS directly related to the upcoming election.
Democrats accused Mr DeJoy, a Donald Trump appointee and supporter of the president, of purposely implementing changes that would undermine its operations and cause problems for states wanting to put in place a mail-in ballot system.
"Over the past several weeks, there have been startling new revelations about the scope and gravity of operational changes you are implementing at hundreds of postal facilities without consulting adequately with Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, or the Board of Governors," Ms Maloney wrote in her letter to Mr DeJoy when inviting him to testify.
"Your testimony is particularly urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays at postal facilities across the country – as well as President Trump's explicit admission last week that he has been blocking critical coronavirus funding for the Postal Service in order to impair mail-in voting efforts for the upcoming elections in November," the chairwoman added.
Besides appearing before the House on 24 August, the committee has also asked Mr DeJoy to produce documents and information by this upcoming Friday, 21 August, about his operational decisions at the USPS.
Mr Trump has been transparent that he does not want to fund the postal service because he believes it could assist in creating a universal mail-in ballot system, something he said would lead to voter fraud.
"They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Mr Trump told Fox News last week. "If they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because they're not equipped to have it."
There has been no evidence to back up claims that mail-in ballots would lead to voter fraud. Already five states in the US – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah – allow for all residents to vote by mail, a system put in place long before the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, other states are now moving towards mail-in ballots as an option to prevent large gatherings of voters at polling places on Election Day. These efforts first started during the primary elections.
During a CNN interview on Sunday, host Jake Tapper told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that there was no evidence of voter fraud through mail-in ballots.
"There's no evidence there is not either," Mr Meadows said. "What the president is against is changing the process to mail-in ballots to everybody."
"The President of the United States is not going to interfere with anyone trying to legitimately cast their vote," he added.
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