US House passes $25B bill to boost Postal Service in defiance of White House

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The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday passed a bill to provide the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service (USPS) with 25 billion U.S. dollars.

The legislative move was aimed at preventing the agency from making any reforms which could slow delivery of mail-in ballots for the presidential election in November.

The bill was passed largely along party lines and was not expected to pass the Republican-led Senate.

The White House had previously issued a veto threat, claiming that the bill would add to the challenges currently facing the USPS. It also accused Democrats of trying to “exploit the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for placing counterproductive restrictions on USPS’s already limited operational flexibilities.”

As the coronavirus pandemic has drastically disrupted this year’s election process, a surging number of voters are expected to vote by mail-in ballots, a method U.S. President Donald Trump has adamantly opposed, for he believes it raises the possibility of voting fraud.

In recent months, the service found itself stuck at the center of controversy as a result of changes sought by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to purportedly cut costs at the agency.

In July, the USPS sent letters to U.S. states across the country, notifying them of possible delays in the delivery of mail-in ballots, which would cause those votes not to be counted on the Nov. 3 Election Day.

The letter warned that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards,” according to The Washington Post.

“This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them,” the letter read.

Under heightened scrutiny by Democratic lawmakers, DeJoy said Tuesday his agency will suspend until after the election a series of cost-cutting reforms that raised critics’ concerns about delays in mail delivery and possible disenfranchisement of voters. 

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