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Democratic chair subpoenas postmaster general for documents on reforms

Democratic chair subpoenas postmaster general for documents on reforms
© Bonnie Cash

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDemocrats urge tech giants to change algorithms that facilitate spread of extremist content Hillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday announced her plans to subpoena Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyJudge approves deal to expedite Georgia runoff ballots DeJoy's calendar released by Postal Service is almost entirely redacted Postal employees report backlogs across the country amid holiday shipping MORE for documents related to recent reforms to the U.S. Postal Service that have raised concerns nationwide. 

Maloney wrote in a letter to committee members that she is issuing the subpoena following DeJoy's failure to send the committee documents on Postal Service changes that she and other Democratic committee members requested when the postmaster general testified before the panel last week. 

Maloney had given DeJoy until last Wednesday to provide the documents, and accused DeJoy during the hearing of “withholding information from us, concealing documents and downplaying the damage you are causing” to the Postal Service. 

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“He has not produced a single additional document since the House and Senate hearings were held despite multiple conversations between Committee staff and Mr. DeJoy’s office over the past week,” Maloney wrote to committee members on Monday, referencing DeJoy’s testimony before the House panel and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee earlier this month. 

During the House hearing, Maloney asked DeJoy to produce documents from a presentation he received in July that detailed slowdowns in service potentially stemming from recent reforms made to the Postal Service. 

In the subpoena issued Monday, Maloney requested those documents and others related to the $10 billion loan given to the Postal Service under the CARES Act stimulus bill, plans for handling election mail, DeJoy’s communications with “outside interests,” and “widespread delays” to Postal Service operations caused by recent reforms. 

Maloney also sent a letter to Robert Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, noting she would issue a second subpoena if he does not produce certain documents voluntarily by Sept. 14. 

These documents include DeJoy’s communications with the board, transcripts from nonpublic board meetings, and documentation around DeJoy’s selection to serve as postmaster general. 

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Maloney noted that the committee would not hold a business meeting to vote on issuing the subpoena. She wrote that due to Republican committee members being “clear that they do not believe there are any significant delays in the mail,” the subpoena would be issued without a meeting. 

The subpoena was issued after weeks of back and forth between Democrats and Republicans over Postal Service concerns, particularly in regard to concerns that delays may negatively impact the delivery of mail-in ballots during the general election later this year. President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE and his allies have claimed that expanded access to mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to massive fraud in the election.

Following the subpoena, DeJoy sent a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee outlining recent positive trends in service performance and trucks running on time. DeJoy also promised to provide both committees with weekly service performance data through the end of the year. 

 

"As I testified, the intervening service declines should never have happened, but the changes are fundamental and necessary and the Postal Service is strongly committed to fixing the problems by identifying and rectifying their root causes," DeJoy wrote.  

In a statement sent to reporters along with the letter, the Postal Service press office noted that the agency was "surprised by the subpoena" due to recent positive interactions with the House panel.

"Given the straightforward and cooperative nature of these communications with the Committee staff, we were frankly surprised and confused by Chairwoman Maloney’s statement today about her intent to issue a subpoena to the Postal Service," the statement read. 

House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerCalls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack House GOP raise concerns over Biden's top Cabinet nominees Sackler family points fingers at Purdue Pharma during House hearing on opioids MORE (R-Ky.) pushed back strongly against the subpoena, describing the move as an “antic” that is “part of a backward pattern by the Democrats to promote a baseless conspiracy theory about the Postal Service.”

Comer referenced a bill passed by the House earlier this month that would give the Postal Service $25 billion to boost operations in criticizing Democrats for passing the bill ahead of DeJoy’s testimony last week. 

“Just one week after the Postmaster General appeared before the Committee for nearly six hours, Democrats have unilaterally issued an overly broad subpoena instead of working with the Postal Service and Committee Republicans to address their concerns,” Comer said in a statement. “Additionally, today’s subpoena breaks an agreement between the Oversight Committee’s Republicans and Democrats that a business meeting would be held before the issuance of any subpoena if requested by the minority.”

“Instead of allowing the Postal Service to do what it does best – deliver mail to hundreds of millions of Americans – it will now spend hundreds of hours responding to this partisan subpoena,” Comer added. “Instead of playing politics in an election year, Democrats should work in a bipartisan fashion to enact meaningful reforms to ensure the Postal Service works best for Americans.”

-Updated at 6:30 p.m. to include input from the Postal Service.