Bloomington-Normal’s two Republican congressmen were split Saturday on a measure that would infuse $25 billion into the Postal Service and block operational changes that Democrats fear could hobble mail-in voting in this November's election.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, was one of just 26 Republicans to support the Delivering For America Act. U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, voted against it.
The bill effectively reverses recent cost-cutting measures introduced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that he had called necessary to help shore up the Postal Service's finances. It blocks the Postal Service from making any service or operations changes through at least January, and requires it to prioritize delivery of all election-related mail.
The bill passed 257 to 150. The White House has threatened a veto, and the bill is not expected to advance through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Davis said he’s “long been a supporter of the men and women” of the U.S. Postal Service, pointing to a letter he sent to Republican leaders in early May urging them to support the USPS in negotiations over COVID-19 relief legislation.
Davis submitted a statement for the Congressional Record to further explain his vote.
“We should not be politicizing the Postal Service and in turn, the thousands of hard-working employees that serve each of our districts. I do not believe the post office is trying to sabotage our elections, as some Democrats have claimed. I’m voting for this bill because we’re in the pandemic, the Postal Service is vital to our society, and they need our help,” Davis said.
LaHood opposed the bill. He said it will “only prevent the USPS from addressing long-term challenges to make it a more efficient and financially stable organization.” He accused Democrats of trying to manufacture a “crisis around the (USPS) to stoke fear ahead of the November election.”
“Democrats are wasting precious time on unfounded mailbox theories, even after the Postal Service halted operational changes until after this election and confirmed their ability to handle increased election mail,” LaHood said. “Working Americans, small businesses, and schools still face significant challenges brought on by COVID-19. Today’s “emergency” session, which a third of Democratic caucus failed to show up for, demonstrates how unserious Democrats’ are about moving our country forward and finding common ground on issues to revitalize our country in the wake of COVID-19.”
Democrats countered by pointing to recent remarks by President Trump in which he appeared to suggest he opposed funding for the Postal Service because he wanted to make it harder to expand vote by mail. He later walked the statement back.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform also made public documents on Saturday that Democrats said show a decline in mail service going back to July.
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