CongressionalWatch

House Passes Bill Protecting Postal Service in Mostly Partisan Vote

WASHINGTON – Alabama’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives, as with much of the House membership, voted mostly along party lines Saturday to shore up the postal service as the country nears an election when more ballots are expected to be mailed than ever before.

The vote on HR 8015 was 257 for and 150 against. It would prohibit the U.S. Postal Service from reducing service below levels in effect at the start of the year and require it to treat official election envelopes as first-class mail in this fall’s balloting. In addition, the bill would provide $25 billion requested by the postal service for coping with the coronavirus outbreak in the budget year starting Oct. 1.

Until the pandemic has run its course, the bill would prohibit the USPS from:

  • Delaying deliveries or increasing the volume of undelivered mail.
  • Closing or consolidating any post office or reducing the business hours.
  • Denying overtime pay to USPS employees.
  • Watering down measurements of whether service standards are being achieved.
  • Lowering nationwide or regional service standards.

Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the bill is needed because “We have a president who does not want every vote counted in the upcoming election because he believes if we do count every vote, he will lose. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. More and more people will be voting by mail. …The current postmaster general is not interested in reforming the post office, he’s interested in dismantling it.”

Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., called the bill “phony political theater to once again bash President Trump just in time for the Sunday talk shows and the Republican National Convention. And just like all the other times, the media will lap it up. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were … voting on a negotiated COVID relief package to help the American people that could actually be signed into law.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-7, was the only one of Alabama’s representatives who voted for the bill. She said in a press release afterward: “In the recent weeks, we have seen this administration push forward sweeping new operational changes that degrade postal service, delay the mail and threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion. President Trump has made it clear that he is willing to derail the Postal Service for the purpose of undermining the upcoming election,” Sewell said.

Rep. Gary Powell, who also represents people in the Birmingham area as the sixth district representative, said on twitter that Democrats were “perpetuating a conspiracy theory” about the postal service to hurt the president.

Otherwise among Alabama representatives:

Voting no: Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5.

Criminalizing Postal Worker Interference:

Voting 182 for and 223 against, the House on Aug. 22 defeated a Republican motion to HR 8015 (above) stipulating it is a federal crime for any postal worker to tamper with election mail. The measure also sought to allocate funding in the bill to prioritize the delivery of prescription drugs, equipping mail personnel with protective gear and processing election ballots.

James Comer, R-Ky., said: “This upcoming election will put millions, possibly hundreds of millions, of votes in the literal hands of postal service workers who we must trust to deliver ballots safely and on time.”

Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., said voting fraud already is a federal crime and noted that “every postal employee takes an oath that they will adhere to the Constitution.”

A yes vote was to adopt the motion.

Alabama

Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Voting no: Sewell

The Senate was in recess during the week ending Aug. 22.

KEY VOTES AHEAD

Congress is in recess until late September.