Postmaster DeJoy Confronted on Mail Delays Since He Took Job

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was confronted Monday with internal Postal Service data showing a drop in service levels in July, shortly after he took over management of the agency, as Democrats press him to reverse cutbacks ahead of the November presidential election.

“This document shows that these delays are not a myth or conspiracy theory, as some of my colleagues argue,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said at the start of a hearing on the post office. “These steep declines did not start in April or May with the coronavirus crisis, but in July when Mr. DeJoy came on board and began making his changes.”

DeJoy said the Postal Service experienced “a temporary service decline which should not have happened,” adding that, “We are fixing this.”

As he did at a Friday hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, DeJoy sought to assure lawmakers that the post office will do “everything we can” to assure delivery of mail-in votes for the November election.

The number of Americans using the mail to cast their ballots in the general election is expected to surge because of the pandemic. President Donald Trump, who is trailing Democrat Joe Biden in polls, has repeatedly sought to raise doubts about mail-in voting, saying without providing evidence that it will delay results and be subject to fraud.

The Postal Service is consistently one of the most popular federal agencies, and complaints about recent slowdowns in service have drawn complaints from Republicans as well as Democrats.

North Carolina Republican Representative Virginia Foxx, in a largely friendly round of questioning, said that she and her husband have received “some very very inefficient service on the part of the post office in the last few weeks.”

DeJoy said he is halting some of the cost-cutting steps that have been taken until the November election, but has said there will continue to be changes after that.

Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan joined DeJoy in testifying at Monday’s hearing. He said the post office was operating with a “broken business model.” The postal board selected DeJoy to be a “transformational leader” who can lead to putting the agency on a more sustainable path.

DeJoy, a former logistics executive and Trump donor, has said he was implementing changes recommended by earlier studies of problems at the Postal Service. He denied there has been any political interference from Trump.

‘Political Stunt’

Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the oversight panel’s top Republican, said the Postal Service needs reform, but that will take time and and bipartisanship and not a “political stunt.”

“Democrats fabricated a conspiracy theory” about the postal service, Comer said.

Maloney said the Postal Service’s own data rebut Republican contentions that Democrats’ alarm over post office delays is unfounded. Service levels recently fell 6% to 10%, Maloney said.

She said DeJoy either thought his changes wouldn’t cause delays or he recklessly ignored warnings about doing so amid a pandemic and ahead of the election.

“Or, perhaps there is a far simpler explanation. Perhaps Mr. DeJoy is just doing exactly what President Trump said he wanted on national television — using the blocking of funds to justify sweeping changes to hobble mail-in voting,” she said.

The House of Representatives on Saturday passed a bill aimed at rolling back some of the changes DeJoy has overseen that Democrats say could harm the ability of Americans to vote by mail.

The bill also would allocate an additional $25 billion for the Postal Service. It had limited Republican support, passing 257 to 150, with 26 GOP members voting yes.

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