Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Wednesday offered a sobering review of the mail agency’s finances and performance capabilities but reaffirmed his intention to overhaul the agency and remain at its helm, telling one Democratic lawmaker: “Get used to me.”
Tapped to lead the Postal Service last summer, DeJoy’s tumultuous tenure has been marked by intense partisan scrutiny and a reform effort that slowed mail deliveries across much of the country. DeJoy apologized Wednesday for “unacceptable” mail delays during the holiday season.
“During this peak season, we fell far short of meeting our service targets. Too many Americans were left waiting weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages,” DeJoy told lawmakers. “This is unacceptable, and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays.”
Wednesday’s hearing before the House Oversight Committee provided lawmakers a venue to air simmering grievances about the 2020 election and ongoing mail service delays. In between partisan bickering, DeJoy sought to promote a forthcoming 10-year strategic plan, which attracted tentative approval from high-profile members on both sides of the aisle.
While the Postal Service remains one of the nation’s most popular federal agencies, its leader became a political lightning rod ahead of the 2020 presidential election, when Democrats accused DeJoy – a longtime GOP donor – of deliberately delaying mail in a bid to undermine mail-in ballots, which were largely expected to support Democratic candidates. DeJoy and the Postal Service vehemently denied those charges.
During Wednesday’s hearing, lawmakers peppered DeJoy with questions about his plan to resurrect the ailing mail agency. But some of the most intense rhetoric surrounded the November election – a sign that the incoming administration’s message of unity may stop at the fences surrounding the U.S. Capitol.
At one point, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the controversy over mail-in voting a politically motivated “charade” manufactured by Democrats to sway voters. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., fired back: “I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did about partisanship.”
Despite moments of combative political bickering, many committee members did aim tackle many legitimate concerns with the agency, which is facing a “dire financial trajectory,” DeJoy said.
Most notably, DeJoy pitched a 10-year strategic plan that includes a pledge to maintain six- and seven-day delivery and overhaul its infrastructure –- including a $482 million investment in a new fleet of 165,000 trucks, a model of which it unveiled on Tuesday.
DeJoy said he would release the full plan by the end of March.
Despite DeJoy’s deep unpopularity among Democrats, the incoming Biden administration has been unable to replace him. That power lies with the Postal Service’s governing board — whose six sitting members were all appointed by President Donald Trump as a result of a Republican-controlled Senate blocking a slate of President Barack Obama’s nominees.
The current slate of governors has expressed support for DeJoy and ignored repeated calls to remove him as postmaster general.
As a result, Democrats and influential mail union leaders have publicly pressured President Joe Biden to appoint new governors, who would need Senate approval. Last week, more than 70 congressional Democrats urged Biden to nominate new governors “as expeditiously as possible” to “seriously consider whether the current Postmaster General is suitable to continue in his role.”
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