- Postmaster DeJoy testified Wednesday at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the postal crisis.
- On the same day, Biden nominated three people to positions on the agency’s board of directors.
- If all are confirmed by the Senate, the board could have the votes necessary to oust DeJoy
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After weeks of mounting pressure from Democrats, President Joe Biden appointed three nominees to fill vacant seats on the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board on Wednesday, as a first step toward securing control of the agency that became a talking point under the Trump administration last year.
Biden nominated two Democrats and a voting rights advocate, Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds, to the agency’s board of governors, according to The Washington Post. Stroman previously served as deputy general manager of the postal service, Hajjar served as a former general counsel for the Postal Workers Union of America, and McReynolds is the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute.
If all three are confirmed by the Senate, the Democrats would essentially gain an advantage over the governing body that would have the same number of Democrats and Republicans and an independent in McReynolds, whose organization is loved by the left, according to The Post.
The board would then have the potential votes to oust the current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who drew criticism last summer for an agency review that led to slower mail service and caused many to worry about the ability to deliver. the agency to handle the influx of mail. ballots for the 2020 general elections.
DeJoy has faced repeated calls for his resignation since the summer, with some progressive lawmakers urging Biden to remove the entire board of governors as a way to fill the body with people who would support removing DeJoy, according to Politico.
Biden’s three nominees also mark a significant step toward diversifying the current, mostly white male governing body. Of Biden’s nominees, Stroman is black, McReynolds is female and Hajjar provides legal advice to the Arab-American Committee Against Discrimination, Politico reported.
In stark contrast to its governing body, the U.S. Postal Service is disproportionately black and female compared to the rest of the federal workforce, the Pew Research Center showed in a May 2020 report.
At a meeting of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush questioned DeJoy about the board’s lack of diversity, likening the group to a “millionaire white boys club.”
DeJoy backed off, reminding lawmakers that the president is responsible for nominating board members and the Senate is responsible for confirming them, while noting that the agency “would love to have a diverse board.”
According to Politico, DeJoy “appeared disturbed” at times during Wednesday’s hearing by lines of questioning and discussion from certain members about the critical media coverage the USPS has faced during his tenure.
He remained defiant, telling lawmakers that he is not going anywhere and that he intends to be “for a long time,” the outlet reported.
But later that day, the White House signaled that it might have other plans for the embattled postmaster.
“He [Biden] He believes the leadership can do better, and we are eager to have the board of governors in place, “said press secretary Jen Psaki when asked if the president was interested in replacing DeJoy, according to The Hill.
Lawmakers also questioned DeJoy about his next plan for the agency, which The Post says will include higher prices and slower deliveries. He reportedly told committee members that a strategic plan for the USPS should be ready by March.
DeJoy acknowledged that the USPS experienced significant delivery delays during the holiday season, citing problems with the agency’s air transportation network as the cause.
The agency has reported billions in losses in recent years, according to Politico, and Postal Board Chairman Ron Bloom told lawmakers Wednesday that the agency is projected to lose about $ 160 billion over the next decade if no reform measures are taken.
“Years of financial stress, underinvestment, unattainable service standards, and lack of operational precision have resulted in a system that does not have adequate resilience to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances,” DeJoy reportedly testified, arguing that the agency’s structural problems preceded his arrival.
Most Republicans defended DeJoy during the hearing and accused their Democratic colleagues of vilifying the postmaster general for how the agency handled mail ballots before the 2020 elections, prompting “tense exchanges” among members. at times during the hearing, The Post reported.
Several of the operational changes made at the USPS last summer under DeJoy were halted in August, after public outcry over the growing crisis. The agency’s internal watchdog found in October that changes combined with COVID-19 personnel issues “negatively affected the quality and timeliness of mail delivery,” according to Politico.