Democratic lawmakers ramped up their demands for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to step aside or be removed after the Trump megadonor on Monday demonstrated flippant ignorance of basic U.S. Postal Service operations, refused to cooperate with lawmakers' requests for documents, and declined to commit to reversing policy changes that have impeded the timely delivery of mail, including life-saving prescription medications.
"Louis DeJoy doesn't know much it costs to mail a postcard—but he's sabotaging the USPS 70 days before an election in which a record number of Americans will vote by mail. He needs to resign now."
—Stand Up America
"If Louis DeJoy will not step down, the USPS Board of Governors must immediately remove him. Our democracy is at stake," tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, following DeJoy's testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
The hearing—DeJoy's second public grilling by lawmakers in less than a week—featured a number of testy exchanges in which the postmaster general dismissed widespread fears that he is sabotaging the Postal Service for the benefit of President Donald Trump, denied acting out of his own financial interest, and downplayed the extent to which he is responsible for changes that have caused mail backlogs across the nation—while also failing to name who he believes is responsible.
However, the former logistics executive did admit to a "deterioration in service" under his leadership, which began in mid-June after he was unanimously appointed by the USPS Board of Governors despite his potential conflicts of interest and complete lack of experience working for the Postal Service.
Questioned by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), DeJoy initially refused to commit to returning mail sorting machines that have been removed from post offices nationwide during his brief tenure—then said he would return the equipment if Congress approves a $1 billion in funding for the agency. On Saturday, the House approved legislation that would provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service.
Watch Rep. Ro Khanna get the Postmaster General DeJoy to agree to put machines back if he gets funding pic.twitter.com/XLGKiN6vEk
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 24, 2020
In the face of elementary questions about USPS services and operations posed by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), DeJoy laughed as he failed to provide correct answers—or, in the case of Porter's question about the cost of mailing a postcard, any answer at all.
"I'm glad you know the price of a stamp, but I'm concerned about your understanding of this agency," said Porter. "And I'm particularly concerned about it because you started taking very decisive action when you became postmaster general. You started directing the unplugging and destroying of machines, changing of employee procedures, and locking of collection boxes."
Following the hearing, Porter tweeted that "it's bad enough the postmaster general doesn't know the basics of his agency."
"But to laugh off his ignorance? This isn't a joke for the millions of Americans who rely on USPS," Porter wrote.
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DeJoy's refusal to clearly commit to handing over his calendars and documents about Postal Service operations during questioning by House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) led both lawmakers to suggest that the postmaster general will be subpoenaed if he fails to comply with the requests in a timely manner.
Several members of the Oversight Committee, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), urged DeJoy to resign during the hearing as he struggled to answer for his sweeping changes at the Postal Service.
After slamming DeJoy for directing "the systemic slowdown of mail delivery during a pandemic within months of a national election," Pressley said "the only thing you should be delivering is your resignation."
"At best, these actions represent irresponsible leadership from a novice who has absolutely no business leading a government agency," Pressley said of DeJoy's operational changes. "At worst, they are cruel, unethical, and anti-democratic."
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told DeJoy he previously avoided "following other colleagues who called on you to resign."
"But I do think now it's time for you to resign," Gomez said. "Not because necessarily there's this grand political conspiracy, but just the incompetence that we've seen when it comes to the Postal Service."
Following Monday's hearing, progressive lawmakers and organizations echoed the demands of Democratic members on the Oversight Committee.
"The Postmaster General needs to resign or be removed from office now," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted late Monday. "We need a postmaster general who will work overtime to ensure the prompt delivery of mail—not a top Trump campaign contributor who is undermining the Postal Service and slowing down the mail. DeJoy must go."
Advocacy group Stand Up America said "Louis DeJoy doesn't know much it costs to mail a postcard—but he's sabotaging the USPS 70 days before an election in which a record number of Americans will vote by mail."
"He needs to resign now," the group added.