DeJoy set for grilling by House Oversight panel
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is set for a grilling by the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday over his leadership of the U.S. Postal Service as Democrats push President Biden to pave the way for his ouster.
While Wednesday won’t be the first time DeJoy faces a tough crowd of Democrats on the Oversight and Reform Committee demanding answers about mail delivery delays, this time he faces the potential threat of a new administration laying the groundwork for his departure.
In recent weeks, Democrats have been urging Biden to fill the three vacancies on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors so that a new majority could vote to remove DeJoy from his position.
“I believe DeJoy has no business being postmaster general, and so I’d like to hear his plans for cleaning out his office and moving on,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who chairs a subcommittee with oversight of the Postal Service, said in an interview ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.
A group of 80 House Democrats sent Biden a letter last week calling for Biden to fill the vacancies on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, writing that it “will allow the Board to seriously consider whether the current Postmaster General is suitable to continue in his role.”
The postmaster general can only be appointed or removed by the Board of Governors, rather than directly by the president. Members of the board, however, are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The remaining six members of the Board of Governors were all nominated by former President Trump. Two of those members are Democrats, including Ron Bloom, the current board chairman who is also set to testify alongside DeJoy on Wednesday.
Some Democrats, including Connolly and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), another member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, have urged Biden to replace all of the current board members.
“I don’t care if he was a Democrat or served in the Obama administration or had labor ties,” Connolly said of Bloom. “None of that matters to me. It’s your performance of the job and it’s your sense of responsibility, fiduciary responsibility, and holding a postmaster general accountable.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that adding new members to the Postal Service Board of Governors is a “priority” for Biden but did not offer a timeline for when they’d be announced.
“It’s really up to the Board of Governors to determine the future leadership of the Postal Service, and we certainly recognize that filling those vacancies is an important step in that process,” Psaki told reporters.
Pressley, a prominent progressive, specifically urged Biden to appoint a “diverse” group to the Board of Governors.
“I encourage you to ensure your appointees are reflective of the 600,000 dedicated workers they will lead. We need a Board of Governors that includes women, people of color, and individuals who have direct experience working for the USPS and serving our communities,” Pressley wrote.
DeJoy was a top GOP donor who ran a logistics company before becoming postmaster general in June. He then moved to implement cost-cutting measures like removing mail sorting machines and mailboxes.
But, following backlash over subsequent mail delays and concerns from Democrats that the changes would impact election mail, DeJoy vowed in August that he would suspend further changes until after the November elections.
DeJoy has also faced questions about delivery delays during the holiday season in December, which the Postal Service attributed to an unusual volume of packages with more people ordering products online, an issue that was exacerbated by a shortage of postal workers due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and “capacity challenges” with airlifts and trucking.
DeJoy said during a Board of Governors meeting earlier this month that the Postal Service hired more than 50,000 seasonal workers and increased full-time staffing, allowed overtime, bought “as much air capacity as we had access to,” extended lease agreements on annexes for extra package processing and, overall, “threw everything we had at it.”
“And yet we missed our service standards by far and disappointed the nation,” DeJoy acknowledged.
Senate Democrats pressed DeJoy last week about why the Postal Service’s preparations fell short and reported hearing from postal workers and Postal Service business partners that management in at least some areas engaged in “concerning practices” like rejecting most overtime requests, limiting transportation and ordering leaving mail behind.
“We question whether management made adequate preparations including sufficient temporary hiring and logistical planning,” the Democratic senators, led by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.), wrote in a letter to the postmaster general.
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