The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would inject $ 25 billion (£ 19 billion) into the Postal Service (USPS) ahead of the November election.
The legislation would also block cuts and changes that critics say hinder postal voting.
Democratic President Nancy Pelosi reminded lawmakers of the summer recess to vote on the bill, which she said would protect the USPS.
However, it is unlikely to be picked up in the Republican-led Senate.
The White House has also threatened a veto, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said further cost-cutting measures at the postal service will be put on hold until after the November vote.
A slowdown in mail deliveries amid cost-cutting measures at the USPS has fueled fears about how one of America’s oldest and most trusted institutions can handle an unprecedented influx of postal ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump strongly opposes postal ballots and has repeatedly suggested that it could lead to widespread voter fraud despite the lack of evidence on the matter.
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The “Delivering for America Act” passed by the House on Saturday includes $ 25 billion in emergency coronavirus funding requested by the USPS board of governors.
The service should also treat all official election mail as first class mail.
The service would be banned until January 2021 from implementing or approving any changes to operations or service levels that “prevent prompt, reliable and efficient service”, including shutting down or reducing hours of operation. opening of post offices, removal of mail sorting machines and letter boxes, or stopping overtime payment.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney, the bill’s mover, said before the debate. “It makes absolutely no sense to impose these kinds of dangerous cuts in the midst of a pandemic and a few months before the November elections. “
Ms. Pelosi pointed out that the USPS is not a business.
“While we always want to subject every federal dollar to scrutiny for what we get for it, let’s remember that this is a service. No company I can think of would ever grapple with what we did at the Postal Service, ”she added.
Republican political leaders said on Friday that Democrats had “sought to spread baseless conspiracy theories about the USPS for political gain” and “fabricated a crisis to undermine President Trump at the expense of American institutions.”
They also condemned Democrats for pursuing what they said was “an unnecessary bailout that fails to address any of the underlying operational problems.”
On Friday, the Postmaster General told a Senate committee that there had been “no change in any policy regarding election mail” and that the USPS was “fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail. on time and on time ”.
Mr DeJoy – a prominent Republican donor and former logistics chief appointed to head the agency in May – admitted that the changes he had brought about had slowed mail delivery, but insisted that it was “scandalous” to suggest that they were intended to help President Trump through November.