With Postmaster General Louis DeJoy reportedly preparing to unveil plans for another round of service cuts and operational changes as soon as this week, President Joe Biden is facing growing calls from lawmakers, mail carriers, and others to take urgent steps to protect the U.S. Postal Service from further damage, pave the way for DeJoy's removal, and shore up the agency's finances for the near and distant future.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that DeJoy—a Republican megadonor to former President Donald Trump—soon intends to "outline a new vision for the agency, one that includes more service cuts, higher and region-specific pricing, and lower delivery expectations."
"We want a Board of Governors that understands fundamentally this is not called the United States Postal Business. It's not a profit-making business. It's here to serve the people."
—Mark Dimondstein, American Postal Workers Union
Meanwhile, the Post noted, "congressional Democrats are pressing President Biden to install new board members, creating a majority bloc that could oust DeJoy, a Trump loyalist whose aggressive cost-cutting over the summer has been singled out for much of the performance decline."
Appointed unanimously by the Trump-appointee-dominated Postal Service Board of Governors in May despite his complete lack of experience with the Postal Service, DeJoy wasted no time imposing sweeping operational changes at the mail agency that resulted in precipitous drops in performance in the weeks ahead of, during, and after the November presidential election—prompting accusations of politically motivated sabotage of the nation's most popular government institution.
While DeJoy was forced to temporarily suspend some of his operational changes last year in the face of a nationwide uproar and numerous court injunctions, the postmaster general now appears intent on moving forward with his plan to cripple the agency—a plan that has Democratic lawmakers and postal workers clamoring for action from the Biden administration.
Because Biden is prohibited by statute from firing DeJoy directly, congressional Democrats are urging the president to terminate every sitting postal governor—including those who publicly cheered on the postmaster general's changes as they produced major package backlogs nationwide and slowed delivery of prescription medicines and mail-in ballots—and replace them with officials willing to remove the postmaster general and protect the agency.
"My solution starts at the top: firing the whole board who presided over Trump and DeJoy's wrecking of USPS. Clean house," Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) tweeted Sunday.
Late last month, as Common Dreams reported, Pascrell became the first congressional Democrat to call on Biden to remove the sitting members of the Board of Governors, which currently consists of four Republicans and one Democrat—all appointed by Trump. Under federal law, the president has the authority to remove postal governors "for cause."
"The board members' refusal to oppose the worst destruction ever inflicted on the Postal Service was a betrayal of their duties and unquestionably constitutes good cause for their removal," argued Pascrell.
Days later, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio.) echoed Pascrell's demand, accusing the board members of complicity in "unprecedented sabotage" of the mail service.
"The response from the leadership of the USPS to the unconscionable delays we are experiencing with the mail is beyond unacceptable," Ryan wrote in a January 29 letter to Biden. "We must do right by the American people, and we must do right by our postal workers and letter carriers."
Last week, USA Today's editorial board joined the growing chorus demanding that Biden remove the sitting postal governors, pointing out that "beyond the hiring of DeJoy, the Board of Governors is led by a former Republican National Committee chairman tapped by Trump."
The USPS board is set to meet Tuesday for the first time since Biden's electoral victory. As the Post reported Saturday, "DeJoy has told mail industry officials he intends to remain in office to roll out an agency reorganization... The plan, parts of which were outlined to a Senate panel in August, includes geographic pricing and longer delivery windows. He's entertained leasing out Postal Service properties and offering non-mailing services, such as private financial services."
Short of terminating the sitting governors, Biden could instead move to fill the three remaining vacancies on the postal board—a step that would give Democrats a majority and potentially the number of votes needed to oust DeJoy. Nominees to the postal board must be confirmed by the Senate.
In the interest of protecting USPS from DeJoy and strengthening the mail agency as a public service, American Postal Workers Union (APWU) president Mark Dimondstein is urging Biden to make "bold appointments" to the Board of Governors.
"We want a Board of Governors that understands fundamentally this is not called the United States Postal Business," Dimondstein told the Associated Press on Sunday. "It's not a profit-making business. It's here to serve the people."
Democratic lawmakers and the APWU are also demanding swift passage of the USPS Fairness Act, legislation that would scrap the onerous mandate requiring the Postal Service to prefund retiree benefits decades in advance. The House passed the bill last year but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to allow a vote on the measure in the upper chamber.
"Congress needs to pass the USPS Fairness Act again," Pascrell tweeted Sunday. "We did last year and McConnell blocked it for 333 days. Let's enact it again."