WASHINGTON — As lawmakers debate his future, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized on Wednesday for his agency's failures during the holiday season.
What You Need To Know
- During a hearing for the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized for the U.S. Postal Service's failures during the holiday season
- DeJoy blamed years of “financial stress, underinvestment, unachievable service standards and a lack of operational precision” for the Postal Service’s woes
- The hearing was largely focused on the USPS’ financial crisis, and DeJoy said he plans to unveil a strategic business plan for the agency in the coming weeks
- DeJoy represents a major source of contention on Capitol Hill after Democrats accused DeJoy last year of sabotaging the agency to hurt mail-in voting and aid Donald Trump's reelection efforts
Testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, DeJoy called the U.S. Postal Service’s performance “unacceptable.”
"During this peak season, we fell far short of meeting our service targets,” DeJoy said. “Too many Americans were left waiting weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages. This is unacceptable, and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays."
The hearing was largely focused on the USPS’ financial crisis. The agency has been operating in the red every year since 2006, as Americans rely less and less on mail in the age of smartphones and online bill pay.
DeJoy blamed years of “financial stress, underinvestment, unachievable service standards and a lack of operational precision” for the Postal Service’s woes.
The postmaster general said he plans to unveil a strategic business plan for the agency in the coming weeks. The Washington Post and NBC News reported earlier this month that the plan would include higher postage rates and the elimination of a first-class tier of mail, a move that would mean slower deliveries.
DeJoy insisted Wednesday that his plan is still being formulated.
“We’re not finalized,” he said. “We’re getting very close to finalized, and we have taken eight months to do a diagnostic on just about every aspect of our operation.”
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) was skeptical, telling DeJoy: “If the business plan for the post office is to deliver an inferior product … that spells trouble.”
DeJoy represents a major source of contention on Capitol Hill. Last year, Democrats accused DeJoy, a major Republican donor, of sabotaging the agency to hurt mail-in voting and aid the reelection efforts of then-President Donald Trump, who had railed against the process. Trump also said publicly he opposed additional funding to help the USPS because doing so would make voting by mail more difficult.
DeJoy has vehemently denied the accusations about him.
Last year, changes at the Postal Service included cutting overtime, freezing new hires, and removing public-collection mailboxes and some sorting machines. Delays over the holidays held up deliveries of prescription medications, paychecks, bills and more.
DeJoy said he didn’t personally order the removal of the collection boxes or processing equipment, or cuts to man hours or overtime.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the Chair of the House Oversight Committee, is reportedly working behind the scenes with DeJoy on a bill to reform the Postal Service, CNN reported. She, however, is trying to navigate between the 90 Democrats who have called for DeJoy’s ouster and those who prefer a more measured approach that would be more likely to attract bipartisan support for her legislation.
Republicans have not forgotten the attacks on DeJoy, which Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia on Wednesday called “conspiracy theories.”
“Why should we believe that the rabid resistance is not going to continue if moving blue [public collection] boxes and mail sorters and trying to bring sanity to overtime usage is somehow viewed as criminal activity by the postmaster?” Hice said. “Then what in the world is going to happen to the business plan that he comes up with?”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told DeJoy that “you were the guy” that Democrats used to launch their “guise of creating this crazy chaos that they wanted around the election relative to mail-in ballot.”
President Joe Biden has no say in who serves as the postmaster general, but he does appoint members to the USPS’ governing board. Currently, six of the nine seats are filled by members who were appointed by Trump — four Republicans and two Democrats. The other three seats are vacant.
Last week, 80 House Democrats sent a letter to Biden urging him to quickly fill the empty seats, which could give Democrats a majority on the board, making it easier to fire DeJoy. Some other Democrats are calling for Biden to also replace the board’s existing members.
One Democrat on the board, Chairman Ron Bloom, who also testified Wednesday, is serving a holdover term, which means Biden could appoint four members without firing anyone.
Bloom said Wednesday the board “supports” DeJoy and “believes the postmaster general, in very difficult circumstances, is doing a good job.”
Biden has not publicly commented on DeJoy’s future.
When asked Wednesday how long he plans to stay in his position, DeJoy responded: “A long time. Get used to me.”