By Jon King /

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin says recent actions and statements by President Trump and his administration concerning the U.S. Postal Service are “unacceptable” and is calling for congressional hearings to be held.

The 8th District Democrat released a statement Friday after President Trump acknowledged that he’s starving the U.S. Postal Service of money to make it harder to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots, which he worries could cost him reelection. “We’re depending on the U.S. Postal Service, a cherished, founding institution in our country, to support us during a generational crisis,” Slotkin said. “It’s hard to overstate how important USPS’s swift, effective, and non-partisan service is to our communities and our country right now. In an era of distancing, the post office brings us a means of commerce, a ballot box, a critical line of communication for our rural communities and, most urgently, a way to access life-saving medication."

On Saturday, Slotkin called for the House Oversight Committee to hold immediate hearings with senior leadership at the U.S. Postal Service. "The delays from the post office are currently the number one issue people are raising with me in person, on our office phones, and via mail,” Slotkin said. “Enough is enough: the House Oversight Committee, which oversees the U.S. Postal Service, should come back to Washington as soon as possible to hold a public hearing with the Postmaster General. USPS leadership should have to publicly explain their recent staffing and operational changes that have led to mail slow-downs, and directly respond to Americans’ urgent questions about getting mailed prescriptions, carrying out normal business, and making sure our absentee votes are counted in November."

Then on Sunday, Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to call the House back into session this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service. The action comes amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency during the coronavirus pandemic while states expand mail-in voting options. A senior Democratic aide told The Associated Press that House Democrats are likely to discuss the schedule on a conference call on Monday and are expected to be in session next Saturday.

In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump explicitly noted two funding provisions that Democrats are seeking in a relief package that has stalled on Capitol Hill. Without the additional money, he said, the Postal Service won’t have the resources to handle a flood of ballots from voters who are seeking to avoid polling places during the coronavirus pandemic. “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”

Memos obtained by The Associated Press show that Postal Service leadership has pushed to eliminate overtime and halt late delivery trips that are sometimes needed to ensure mail arrives on time, measures that postal workers and union officials say are delaying service. Additional records detail cuts to hours at post offices, including reductions on Saturdays and during lunch hours. Meanwhile, multiple reports indicate that the USPS plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines from facilities across the country. Documents obtained by CNN indicate 671 machines used to organize letters or other pieces of mail are slated for "reduction" in dozens of cities this year. Slotkin says it is “distressing to see reports of mail-sorting machines being removed from postal facilities, and to hear the President state plainly that he does not support funding for the postal service because he doesn’t support mail-in voting.” Slotkin continued by saying, “This goes so far beyond politics. Any attempts to undermine the postal service, particularly if for political purposes, strikes at the heart of our communities, and puts people at physical risk. It’s unacceptable, and we need citizens’ voices heard to move the White House from this position.”

Separately, the Postal Service warned Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that the agency might not be able to deliver ballots in time to be counted under the state’s deadlines for casting mail-in votes. Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said in a statement that “certain deadlines concerning mail-in ballots, may be incompatible with the Postal Service’s delivery standards,” especially if election officials don’t pay more for first-class postage. “To the extent that states choose to use the mail as part of their elections, they should do so in a manner that realistically reflects how the mail works,” he said.

In a memo to staff Thursday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said his policies have brought “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels,” but added that the Postal Service “must make a number of significant changes which will not be easy, but which are necessary. This will increase our performance for the election and upcoming peak season and maintain the high level of public trust we have earned for dedication and commitment to our customers throughout our history,” DeJoy wrote, according to the memo obtained by the AP.

Judy Beard, legislative and political director for the American Postal Workers Union, said postal workers are up to the task of delivering mail-in ballots this year. “We definitely know that the president is absolutely wrong concerning vote-by-mail,” she said.