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Will the new bill save the US postal service in time for the election? Here’s what we know



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USPS collection bins near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Erin Scott / Bloomberg / Getty Images

This story is part of Val 2020, CNET̵

7;s coverage of the reason for the November vote.

On Saturday, the US House of Representatives plans to return from the August poll early to vote on legislation the latest changes to the US Postal Service. The legislation can affect the ability of up to 80 million people to do so vote by mail during Presidential election in November middle of coronavirus pandemic. The USPS warned election officials in 46 states that post-election ballots could not be delivered on time.

On Wednesday, Democrats released their bill, a revised version of the U.S. Delivery Act (PDF), introduced last week in response to changes proposed by postmaster Louis DeJoy.

The bill includes an additional $ 25 billion to the USPS, and calls for a ban or revocation of service changes that could delay mail delivery. This funding was originally part of a larger coronavirus stimulus, but negotiations between House Democrats and Republicans broke down before the congress was adjourned on 7 August.

Here’s all you need to know about the bill, when Congress is expected to vote on it, what Republicans are saying and what the controversy is in the first place. For a more in-depth look, scroll to the end to get a picture of the controversy and read our in-depth look at what happened to the USPS.

When will Congress vote on the USPS bill and what do Republicans say?

The vote on the US Delivery Act is expected to come on Saturday, after the Democratic National Convention has been convened. Last Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the House to return from its break early to vote on the act.

“In a time of pandemic, the postal service is central,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Congress. “Life, livelihood and the life of our American democracy are threatened by the president.”

While the Democratic bill is likely to pass in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Courier-Journal on Tuesday that the Senate is unlikely to approve a bill addressed only to the USPS.

McConnell said on Monday that the USPS would be “just fine” and that the Trump administration was willing to spend up to $ 10 billion “just to make sure the post office is in a good position to go to the polls in November.” part of negotiations on another toolkit for coronavirus using certain provisions of the proposed HEALS Act.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said last Sunday that he was open to “piecemeal” legislation around the U.S. Postal Service, as well as around stimulus relief.

“If we can agree on mail, let’s do it. If we can agree on stimulus controls“Let’s do it,” said Meadows. Congress must come back and collect its actions. ”

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Voting, or absent, voting is seen as a safe way for millions of Americans to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. It requires a fully functioning USPS that can handle the increased load.

Jason Redmond / Getty Images

What exactly does the new USPS bill include?

The final version of the Democratic USPS Bill (PDF) states that from the time it is adopted until either January 1, 2021 or the last day of the COVID-19 pandemic – whichever is later – the USPS may not implement or approve any changes of the business or service level, other than those that entered into force on 1 January 2020.

In terms of financing, the bill requires an additional payment of $ 25 billion to the USPS.

Changes that would be prohibited if this version of the bill is approved include:

  • Any change in the nature of the postal services that will generally affect the service on a national basis.
  • Possible revision of service standards.
  • Possible closure or consolidation of post offices or reduction of construction hours.
  • All prohibitions on overtime pay to USPS officers or employees.
  • Any changes that would prevent the USPS from meeting its service standards or causing a decrease in performance.
  • Any changes that would delay email or increase the volume of undelivered email.
  • To treat election mail as something other than first-class mail, even if this requires the service to pay employees overtime.
  • Remove, turn off, or otherwise stop email sorters for anything other than routine maintenance.
  • Delete all mail collection boxes that are available to the public.
  • Adopt any rules, policies or standards that cause a delay in mail delivery to or from a government agency.
  • Establish any employment freeze.

The bill also requires that all policies that prevent mail delivery and for the processing of election mail on the same day be revoked.

Read more: The threat to vote by mail is not fraud. It is misinformation and sabotage






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What is the controversy with the USPS?

The current controversy involving the USPS began in June, when DeJoy, a major GOP donor, took on the role of postmaster general and rolled out a series of cost-saving measures to make the postal service more profitable, in line with President Donald Trump’s behavior. This includes cutting overtime, reorganizing the agency’s structure and requiring late arrivals to be delivered the next day, which has resulted in a national decline in mail.

Mail sorting machines and collection boxes have also been removed, raising doubts that there is sufficient infrastructure to support post-in ballots.

DeJoy announced on Tuesday that the USPS will not change its store hours or close mail processing facilities, and mailboxes will remain where they are with the US Postal Service until after the election, to “avoid even any impact on election mail.”

However, after speaking with DeJoy, Pelosi released a statement calling the break for change “insufficient.”

“The postmaster general frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for sufficient overtime, which is crucial for fast delivery of mail, do not exist in the works,” Pelosi said in the statement. .

DeJoy will testify before a Senate Committee on Home Security and Government Affairs in advance on Friday, and before the House Monitoring Committee on Monday, on the latest changes to the USPS.


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