Government

Postal Service adequately funded to handle mail-in voting, Sen. Chuck Grassley says

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a disaster recovery briefing with President Donald Trump on Aug. 18 at The Ea
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a disaster recovery briefing with President Donald Trump on Aug. 18 at The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

The U.S. Postal Service needs additional funding, but Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, doesn’t expect the Senate to take up the $25 billion appropriation the House approved late last week.

“We need to give the post office more money, but none of this has anything to do with making sure that we are able to process the ballots, get the ballots to be counted,” he told reporters Monday.

That was a concern of the Democratic-controlled House when it passed the Delivering for America Act on Saturday to prohibit operational changes the majority party says have led to a slowdown in delivery times.

Second District U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack called the slowdowns “unacceptable” because many Iowans, especially in rural areas, “rely on the United States Postal Service to get their medical prescriptions, correspond with loved ones, receive important tax notifications and refunds from the IRS, vote by mail, and get their paychecks and many other packages and letters safely from one place to another.”

Democrats have accused the postmaster general, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, of intentionally slowing services to delay mail-in ballots in November.

However, in Senate testimony before the House approved the funding, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said his “No. 1 priority” is to ensure election mail arrives on time.

Trump has threatened to veto the legislation if it arrives on his desk. There seems to be little likelihood of that as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the bill part of a postal “conspiracy theory.”

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Democrats said preventing operational changes is necessary because millions of American are expected to vote by mail to avoid casting in-person ballots at polling places.

The Postal Service called the House bill “well-meaning,” but said the legislation would constrain its ability to make changes to improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve service.

According to Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Postal Service is adequately funded through August 2021. In addition, Congress approved an additional $10 billion.

The current and previous postmasters general have warned that in some states election laws compress the absentee voting process to a point that it may be difficult for voters to apply for a ballot, receive it in the mail and return it through the postal system in time to be counted, Grassley said. Iowa is not among those states, he added.

Iowans can request an absentee ballot now and begin returning them Oct. 5 — 29 days before the Nov. 3 election.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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