Warning that the U.S. Postal Service will continue to be under threat as long as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has "free rein" to impose his agenda, a group of 80 House Democrats is calling on President Joe Biden to quickly fill the vacancies on the mail agency's board in order to stop DeJoy from inflicting further damage and set the stage for his removal.
Led by Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the lawmakers argued in a letter (pdf) to Biden on Wednesday that "filling the vacant seats on the Postal Service's Board of Governors with strong, passionate advocates for the institution will allow it to function in a nonpartisan manner, and will allow the board to seriously consider whether the current postmaster general is suitable to continue in his role."
"The Postal Service cannot continue to operate without dedicated leadership who believe in its mission and will fight for its success."
—Rep. Gerry Connolly
Connolly, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations—a panel with jurisdiction over the Postal Service—said in a statement that DeJoy's tenure as former President Donald Trump's "handpicked postmaster general has been one of deliberate sabotage, draconian service cuts, and craven partisanship."
"The Postal Service cannot continue to operate without dedicated leadership who believe in its mission and will fight for its success," said Connolly, who has been demanding DeJoy's resignation since last August. "I urge President Biden to quickly fill the vacancies on the Board of Governors with individuals who respect this treasured American institution and who will work tirelessly to restore it for the use of generations to come."
There are currently four vacancies on the 11-member Postal Service board, including three Senate-confirmed governor spots. While Biden does not have the legal authority to remove DeJoy himself, filling the three open positions with Democrats would give the party a majority of board governors and the votes necessary to replace the postmaster general.
"We do not doubt that the Postal Service requires some thoughtful reforms in order to continue to provide excellent service to the American people in the years to come; however, there is a plethora of evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy is not equipped to meet the rigors of these challenges," the House Democrats wrote.
USPS will never recover so long as DeJoy is given free rein by a partisan, ineffective, and incomplete Board of Governors.@RepAdams, @RepPeterDeFazio, and I led 77 members in urging President Biden to quickly fill the BoG vacancies with proven champions of the Postal Service. pic.twitter.com/yqKFR5rBOY
— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) February 17, 2021
The lawmakers' letter came as DeJoy is preparing to unveil a new slate of policy changes that—if allowed to take effect—would further slow mail delivery and increase prices for consumers and businesses.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, DeJoy—a GOP megadonor to Trump—is considering a proposal that would "put all first-class mail onto a single delivery track... a move that would mean slower and more costly delivery for both consumers and commercial mailers."
DeJoy's new plan, which has yet to be finalized, would also prevent "first-class mail from being shipped by airplane... forcing all of it into trucks and a relay of distribution depots," according to the Post.
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Any additional delivery slowdowns would come on top of dramatic USPS performance declines that critics attributed to the operational changes DeJoy implemented soon after he took office last June.
Despite his complete lack of experience at the Postal Service, the USPS Board of Governors unanimously appointed DeJoy last May and has since defended his actions amid widespread public backlash, leading several Democratic lawmakers to call on Biden to terminate every sitting postal governor.
In their letter on Wednesday, the 80 Democratic lawmakers noted that under DeJoy's leadership, "the on-time delivery of flat mail has plunged drastically; veterans, who rely almost exclusively on the Postal Service to receive their medications through the VA, have faced life-threatening delays in receiving those parcels; and the public perception pertaining to the integrity of the 2020 general election was threatened by the impact of these delays on the timely delivery of mail-in ballots."
Read the House Democrats' full letter:
Thank you for your dedicated efforts to address the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on the American people. Under your leadership, we look forward to helping our country build back better from the hardships brought about by this pandemic. In particular, we believe that the ongoing crisis at the United States Postal Service requires your immediate attention. We respectfully request that you submit nominations for the three vacant positions on the United States Postal Service’s Board of Governors to the Senate as expeditiously as possible. Nominating strong, passionate advocates for the institution to these open seats will allow it to function in a more nonpartisan, effective manner.
As you know, the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service functions as its board of directors. The board comprises 11 individuals, nine of whom are selected by the president of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate. As a result of the Trump administration's failure to fully fill the board, three of those nine seats remain vacant. We strongly believe that filling those three vacancies would enhance the ability of the board to reach nonpartisan consensus on matters of importance.
The lack of bipartisan consensus is evident in the Board of Governors' election of Republican Party megadonor Louis DeJoy—who had no experience working for the Postal Service prior to his appointment—to succeed Megan Brennan as Postmaster General in June 2020. Since Mr. DeJoy assumed office, he has, under the guise of enacting needed reforms, rapidly transformed the Postal Service to the detriment of Americans. Critically, the on-time delivery of flat mail has plunged drastically; veterans, who rely almost exclusively on the Postal Service to receive their medications through the VA, have faced life-threatening delays in receiving those parcels; and the public perception pertaining to the integrity of the 2020 general election was threatened by the impact of these delays on the timely delivery of mail-in ballots.
Now more than ever, it is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure USPS can maintain its high service standards when Americans—especially seniors, veterans, and those in rural communities—are relying on the efficient and timely delivery of bills, parcels, and medication from the Postal Service. We do not doubt that the Postal Service requires some thoughtful reforms in order to continue to provide excellent service to the American people in the years to come; however, there is a plethora of evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy is not equipped to meet the rigors of these challenges. Filling the vacant seats on the Postal Service's Board of Governors with strong, passionate advocates for the institution will allow it to function in a nonpartisan manner, and will allow the Board to seriously consider whether the current Postmaster General is suitable to continue in his role.
We thank you for your consideration of this important request and look forward to working with you as you take decisive steps to secure one of our country's oldest, most cherished, and most valuable public institutions.