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Democrats move to block Trump's attempt to slow mail delivery

WASHINGTON : US Democrats stepped up pressure on Sunday against a cost-cutting campaign by President Donald Trump's appointed Postal Service chief that they fear will hold up mail-in ballots in November's election, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling lawmakers back and several states considering legal action.

Top Democrats in Congress called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and another top postal official to testify this month at a hearing on a wave of cuts that has slowed mail delivery across the country, alarming lawmakers ahead of the Nov 3 election when up to half of US voters could cast ballots by mail.

Democrats have accused Mr Trump, who is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in opinion polls, of trying to hamstring the cash-strapped Postal Service to suppress mail-in voting. Mr Trump has repeatedly and without evidence said mail-in voting would lead to fraud.

Ms Pelosi, the country's top elected Democrat, said on Sunday she was calling the Democratic-controlled House back to Washington later this week to vote on legislation to protect the Postal Service from what she called Mr Trump's "campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters".

A senior Democratic aide said House lawmakers would likely return on Saturday to vote on the bill, which would prohibit changes to Postal Service levels that were in place on Jan 1, 2020.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there were no scheduling updates for the Republican-controlled Senate to meet.

Congressional Democrats called on Mr DeJoy, a Trump donor, and Postal Service Chairman Robert Duncan to testify at an Aug 24 hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Several Democratic state attorneys general said they were in discussions about potential legal action to stop Postal Service changes that could affect the election outcome.

"It is outrageous that Donald Trump would attempt to undermine the US Postal Service for electoral gain," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy said, adding that the Republican president's actions raised constitutional, regulatory and procedural questions.

Ms Healy said counterparts in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, North Carolina, Washington and other states were conferring. - REUTERS

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