- Postmaster DeJoy testified Wednesday at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the postal crisis.
- The same day, Biden nominated three people to open positions on the agency’s governing board.
- If all are confirmed by the Senate, the board would potentially have the votes needed to oust DeJoy
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After weeks of mounting pressure from Democrats, President Joe Biden named three nominees to open positions on the US Postal Service’s governing board Wednesday, as a first step toward securing control of the agency that became a point of contention under the Trump administration last year.
Biden nominated two Democrats and a voting rights advocate – Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar, and Amber McReynolds – to the agency’s board of governors, according to The Washington Post. Stroman previously served as the deputy postmaster general, Hajjar acted as former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union, and McReynolds is the chief executive of the National Vote at Home Institute.
If all three are confirmed by the Senate, Democrats would essentially gain an advantage over the governing body which would have equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans and one Independent in McReynolds, whose organization is beloved by the left, according to The Post.
The board would then have the potential votes to oust the current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who drew criticism last summer over an agency overhaul that led to slower mail service and caused many to worry about the agency’s ability to handle the influx of mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election.
DeJoy has faced repeated calls for his resignation since the summer, with some progressive lawmakers urging Biden to remove the entire board of governors as a way to fill the body with people who would support removing DeJoy, according to Politico.
Biden’s three nominees also mark a significant step toward diversifying the currently all male, mostly white governing body. Of the Biden nominees, Stroman is Black, McReynolds is a woman, and Hajjar provides legal advice to the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, Politico reported.
In stark contrast to its governing body, the US Postal Service is disproportionately Black and female when compared to the rest of the federal workforce, the Pew Research Center showed in a May 2020 report.
At a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting Wednesday, Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri questioned DeJoy on the board’s lack of diversity, comparing the group to a “millionaire white boys’ club.”
DeJoy pushed back, reminding lawmakers the president is responsible for nominating board members and the Senate is responsible for confirming them, while noting the agency “would love to have a diverse board.”
According to Politico, DeJoy “appeared perturbed” at times during Wednesday’s hearing by certain members’ lines of questioning and discussion of the critical media coverage USPS has faced during his tenure.
He remained defiant, telling lawmakers that he’s not going anywhere and intends to be around “a long time” the outlet reported.
But later that day, the White House signaled it may have other plans for the embattled postmaster.
“He [Biden] believes the leadership can do better, and we are eager to have the board of governors in place,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked if the president was interested in replacing DeJoy, according to The Hill.
Lawmakers also questioned DeJoy on his next plan for the agency, which, according to The Post, will include higher prices and slower delivery. He reportedly told committee members a strategic plan for the USPS should be ready by March.
DeJoy acknowledged the USPS experienced major delivery delays during the holiday season, citing problems with the agency’s air transportation network as the cause.
The agency has reported billions in losses over the last few years, according to Politico, and the postal board chair Ron Bloom told lawmakers Wednesday that the agency is projected to lose around $160 billion over the next decade if reform measures aren’t taken.
“The years of financial stress, underinvestment, unachievable service standards and lack of operational precision have resulted in a system that does not have adequate resiliency to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances,” DeJoy reportedly testified, arguing the agency’s structural problems preceded his arrival.
Most Republicans defended DeJoy during the hearing and accused their Democratic colleagues of vilifying the postmaster general over how the agency handled mail-in ballots leading up to the 2020 election, which led to “tense exchanges” between members at times during the hearing, The Post reported.
Several of the operational changes made to the USPS last summer under DeJoy were stopped in August, after public outcry over the mounting crisis. The agency’s internal watchdog found in October the changes combined with COVID-19 staffing issues “negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery,” according to Politico.