Testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sparred with Democratic lawmakers who pressed him on the Postal Service's continued delays in mail delivery. "Get used to me," the Trump-appointed Dejoy told members of Congress, expressing his intentions to stay in his role for "a long time" despite the Postal Service's history of dysfunction under his leadership. Shortly thereafter, the White House announced President Joe Biden's picks to fill the three vacancies on the U.S. Postal Service's board of governors, which oversees DeJoy.
According to NBC News, Biden's picks include a former deputy postmaster general and the former general counsel for American Postal Workers Union. NBC News also reports that the current board is made up of six white men with "limited experience with the Postal Service." Biden's picks include two men of color and a woman.
In his testimony, the Postmaster General apologized for the delays, specifically citing their severity over the holidays. "We must acknowledge that during this peak season, we fell far short of meeting our service targets," DeJoy admitted. "Too many Americans were left waiting for weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages. This is unacceptable and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays."
DeJoy's apology comes after the Trump-appointee took a series of "cost-cutting" measures over the summer of last year, such as removing mail sorting machines, in an ostensible effort to buoy the financial health of the Post Service –– an institution which lost over $9 billion last year and holds some $80 billion in unfunded liabilities. DeJoy planned to implement another wave of cost-cutting initiatives after the summer but decided to hold off until after November in order to allay fears that doing so would hamper the integrity of the election system.
While DeJoy promised to unveil a new and improved strategic plan for the Postal Service, several Democratic lawmakers remained skeptical because of the damage he's already personally inflicted. In one instance, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., challenged DeJoy after he admitted the limitations of ground mail. "It sounds like your solution to the problems you've identified is just surrender," Raskin said. "You're basically saying, 'Because the mail has been late under your leadership, we're just going to change the standards and build it into the system that it will be late.'"
DeJoy rebutted that the Postal Service had operational problems long before he took over. "You can sit here and think I'm bringing all this damage to the Postal Service," he said, "but the place was operationally faulty because of lack of investment and lack of ability to move forward, which is what we're trying to do."
As Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., told NPR before the hearing, however, "The standard for the Postal Service has been: the mail gets delivered on time 96% of the time. But what we're seeing nationally is roughly 80%, and in some areas considerably less than that. In Detroit, for example, it's roughly 74%. So that's still an unacceptable standard."
Following the meeting, President Biden announced the names of three people to fill the existing vacancies in the Postal Service's Board of Governors: Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds. Last moth, Congressional Democrats called for DeJoy's ouster. With Biden's new additions, the Board of Governors might have the majority needed strip DeJoy of his title.