You may have thought that Saturday’s vote in the House of Representatives was all about the Postal Service.

It wasn’t.

The same with Monday’s hearing with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy before the House Oversight Committee.

Not really.

Saturday’s House vote and Monday’s hearing were about painting a picture. Painting a picture about the election. Democrats hoped to paint a picture to energize their base and burnish a narrative that the Trump administration is corrupt. So corrupt that President Trump and others might try to tilt the field this fall by messing with the mail.

That may not be fair to the administration. But elections are about perceptions. And Democrats are working overtime to reveal issues with the Trump administration, the Postal Service and, from their perspective, the U.S. Senate.

Let’s start with the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is determined to capitalize on all of this. The Senate is under control of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Republicans. McConnell is the “Grim Reaper,” says Pelosi. The Senate is up for grabs this fall, and McConnell, while not facing the most-competitive challenge on the board this cycle, has something of a race with Democrat Amy McGrath.

Pelosi: It’s very important to shine a light on the Postal ServiceVideo

Pelosi knew exactly what she was doing when she recalled the House in the middle of Congress’ August recess to debate and vote on a bill to rescind USPS policy changes and infuse the service with $25 billion.

Pelosi clearly was aware it was problematic to recall the House and Senate in the middle of either party’s convention. So, she picked last Saturday, wedged in the middle.

It’s an overused expression to say that a Saturday session of Congress is “rare.” It’s even more unusual for either the House or Senate to huddle for legislative business during the August recess. Sure. Congress sometimes cuts out of town in early August for a month or more. The schedule periodically dictates that Congress remain in session the first week of August, toiling on legislation. But, it’s been a long time since lawmakers left in August and were recalled en masse to vote for something unexpected.

Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill in early September 2013 for briefings on possible military action against Syria – which never materialized.

A handful of House and Senate members scrambled to descend on the Capitol just before midnight during the “August recess” – actually on Sept. 2, 2006 – after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. Congress had to prop up the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] with financial resources. But, the measure wasn’t controversial, so only a skeleton crew of lawmakers came back to sign off on the extra disaster aid.

The House stumbled in an effort to approve the now controversial “crime bill” – co-authored by none other than presidential nominee Joe Biden when he led the Senate Judiciary Committee – in early August 1994. But, after some work behind the scenes, the House finally cobbled together the votes to approve the measure. The House and Senate returned to Washington in late August of that year to pass the crime bill.

Recalling Congress, on a Saturday, in the middle of the August recess, in-between the conventions, requires moxie. Democrats knew such a gambit would underscore issues with the Postal Service as “urgent.” But, there were some political motives afoot here. Scheduling a weekend session and dragging everyone back to Washington ups the drama.

Republicans immediately noted that the legislation at hand had no chance in the Senate – and they were right.

“The Democrats’ USPS Conspiracy Theory Act is nothing more than a costly political stunt to the tune of $25 billion. The Postal Service does not need a bailout. They have enough cash on hand to get them through the next year and have access to a $10 billion line of credit if needed,” said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, on Saturday.

During Monday’s House hearing with DeJoy, Comer attempted to equate the Democrats’ concerns about the Postal Service with the impeachment of Trump.

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., “unveiled a 60-page PowerPoint she just received overnight from an apparent whistleblower,” Comer said. “Madam Chair, I don’t need to remind you that your and [House Intelligence Committee chairman and California Democrat] Adam Schiff’s record with whistleblowers is less than stellar.”

At Monday’s hearing with DeJoy, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., argued Democrats were engaged in subterfuge.

“Violent mobs are roaming our streets and the Chinese have crushed our economy, and the Democrats are screaming about a mailbox conspiracy,” Higgins told DeJoy. “I wouldn’t appear before this committee without a subpoena if I were you.”

Just like the Democrats, Republicans were trying to shape the message, too.

The House then passed the USPS bill with the help of 26 Republicans and sent the measure to the Senate.

Republicans are right. The bill won’t go anywhere. But, from a political standpoint, that’s kind of how Democrats want it. They again could describe the Senate as a “black hole” where House measures go to die. That’s a similar tactic from the $3 trillion coronavirus bill the House approved back in May. Republicans can’t align behind a plan – and need help from Democrats to advance anything.

As we say, this is about painting a picture, projecting that the GOP-led Senate and McConnell are a problem and in need of new management. Yes. Coronavirus and the Postal Service demand attention. But, Democrats are more than happy to seize on these issues heading into November.

Postmaster General DeJoy claims mail-in voting is safe, secureVideo

There is a lot of debate about what’s going on with the Postal Service. There are deep issues with USPS, to be sure. Still, politics is about personalities and “casting” a play, projecting various characteristics onto the players and defining their roles.

No average American could tell you who the postmaster general was for years. But, even though he’s only been on the job since mid-June, Louis DeJoy is the best-known postmaster general since Benjamin Franklin.


Democrats began casting their play back in late July. It started when Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer,  D-N.Y., summoned DeJoy to a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as the sides tried to forge a coronavirus relief bill.

That was DeJoy’s first introduction to the spotlight. He showed up with Meadows and Mnuchin to a phalanx of reporters and still photographers, camped outside Pelosi’s office.

And, ever since, Democrats have tried to cast DeJoy as the perfect villain, curating an image in the mind of voters.

During Monday’s hearing, viewers observed DeJoy’s furrowed brow. Tough-guy, bald pate. When Democrats posed incendiary questions, DeJoy snarled replies out of the side of his mouth and sounded like Nathan Detroit.

That was exactly what Democrats wanted.

Rep. Cooper asks whether Postmaster General DeJoy is above the lawVideo

Fair or not to DeJoy, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., likened DeJoy to former Trump confidante Michael Cohen during his questioning.

“Did you pay back several of your top executives for contributing to Trump’s campaign by bonusing or rewarding them?” Cooper asked.

“That’s an outrageous claim,” steamed DeJoy. “I resent it.”

“I’m just asking a question,” Cooper replied calmly. “Mr. DeJoy, is your backup plan to be pardoned like Roger Stone?”

“I have no comment on that,” DeJoy fumed, sounding like Kojak. “It’s not worth my time.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., stumped DeJoy at the hearing, asking him if he knew the cost of a postcard.

He didn’t.

“I know very little about postage stamps,” DeJoy replied – although he did know that a first-class stamp cost 55 cents.

Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., asked if DeJoy was receiving his mail on time.

“I do not know,” DeJoy answered.

These are the types of answers which Democrats clearly wanted to elicit from DeJoy. This would help them sketch DeJoy as out of touch with the very agency which he helms. Democrats cast their villain and put a face to it: not the friendly, hard-working letter carrier on your block, but the one who Democrats contended was trying to undermine the Postal Service.

Successful or not, they were trying to paint a picture. The Democrats’ narrative would go like this:

“DeJoy is a presidential loyalist who shouldn’t have been picked for the job in the first place. He’s just about cutting costs. Voting by mail could be a risky proposition this fall. House Democrats passed a coronavirus bill and a Postal Service bill. But, you know what happens when things hit McConnell’s inbox.”

Both sides engage in this political shading. The Postal Service issue is just the latest example.


Sure. There are major problems which demand resolution at the Postal Service. But, Democrats are trying to translate this as an election-year issue for the ballot box.

Or, in this case, at the mail box.

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