Postmaster General DeJoy denies political influence as House questions mail delays

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the House Oversight Committee Monday and grew increasingly defensive as Democrats asked pointed questions about delayed U.S. Postal Service mail delivery.

DeJoy denied that policies he implemented had a major effect on mail delivery times, stating that all he had done was reshuffle the organization and attempt to have the Postal Service trucks run on schedule. He said many changes, such as the removal of blue collection boxes and mail sorting machines, preceded his taking the post on June 15.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, D-N.Y., presented an internal Postal Service document, which appeared to have been prepared for DeJoy on Aug. 12, that showed an 8 to 10 percent drop in on-time mail deliveries since early July.

She emphasized that DeJoy, a former logistics executive, was in charge during this collapse in service, but DeJoy refused to take sole responsibility for the slow down.

“There are a lot of reasons for delays besides the action I took to run your trucks on time,” he said. “There are other reasons for delays in the nation.”

But one of DeJoy’s changes has caused many delays, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said, noting that in Nashville trucks were leaving the post office empty to attempt to stick to DeJoy’s schedule.

“That’s not efficiency,” Cooper said. “That’s insanity.”

Cooper also led a series of heated questions that rankled DeJoy, focusing on his political history as a Republican fundraiser and Trump donor.

He asked whether DeJoy had given bonuses to his employees in 2016 who donated to the Trump campaign and if the Postal Service mail delays are Dejoy’s “implicit contributions” to the Trump campaign. Cooper also requested any communications between DeJoy and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and President Trump.

DeJoy answered no to the first two questions. He then said he hadn’t had substantive communications with members of the Trump campaign or administration, though later he admitted to having spoken to Mnuchin prior to taking his post.

“I talked to him about the job after I received the offer,” DeJoy said. “I did not accept the offer immediately, OK?”

The postmaster general also said he would not release his background check, as Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., asked about how his private investments overlapped with the Postal Service’s direction. DeJoy said Raskin could read the USPS Office of the Inspector General’s report once it had finished its probe into his actions and business dealings.

“I guess they’ll get to everything you’re interested in, and we’ll see what happens,” DeJoy said.

Critics and some lawmakers have questioned if the Postal Service delays were intentional and meant to interfere with mail-in voting, which President Trump has opposed in the past. DeJoy, a close ally of the president, said last week that he would suspend further changes to the Postal Service until after the election to avoid the appearance of influence.

Trump again stated his opposition to mail-in voting — an option that states have expanded as the country faces a pandemic — during his address to the Republican National Committee on Monday, as well as on Twitter, where he again floated his claim without evidence that mail-in ballots would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Maloney emphasized possible voter interference during her opening statement and said that DeJoy’s acts were “reckless” and signs of “incompetence” or were directed by the president.

“Perhaps Mr. DeJoy is doing exactly what President Trump said he wanted on national television: using the blocking of funds to justify sweeping changes to hobble mail-in voting,” Maloney said.

DeJoy told the Senate Homeland Committee Friday that he would commit to delivering ballots within one to three days, as they have been in past elections, and he noted that he himself has voted by mail. He reaffirmed that expectation on Monday, though he encouraged Americans to request their ballots and vote early.

“The Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nations ballots securely and on time,” DeJoy said Monday. “This sacred duty is my No. 1 priority between now and election day.”

Beyond the election, however, the delays have hurt thousands who rely on the Postal Service to deliver sometimes crucial or life-saving prescriptions and small businesses that are increasingly reliant on the agency’s affordable and previously reliable delivery services.

Postal Service insiders blamed the DeJoy’s policies, primarily a ban of overtime and extra trips for carriers to ensure mail arrives on time, as some of the reasons for the delays. DeJoy denied banning overtime, stating Monday that the Postal Service had spent $700 million on overtime since he took office and was providing overtime at the same rate as prior to his appointment.

During a particularly heated moment, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., emphasized the history of the Postal Service and its ability to deliver mail amid the most difficult periods of American history, including the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II.

“In my heart I’m tempted to ask: After 240 years of patriotic service to delivering the mail, how can one person screw this up in just a few weeks?” Lynch said. “Now I understand you bring private sector expertise, I guess we couldn’t find a government worker to screw it up this fast. It would take them a while.”

DeJoy called Lynch’s questions, including his final one about reconnecting mail sorting machines, “more misinformation for the American public.”

Postal service delays have gained increasing attention in past weeks, and the House passed a bill late Saturday authorizing $25 billion in emergency funds for the Postal Service. While it gained some support from House Republicans, it is expected to be met with opposition in the Senate.

House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., decried the passage of the USPS funding bill that received bipartisan approval in the House on Saturday, particularly as representatives passed the bill before Monday’s hearing with DeJoy.

“The president does not support the bill, the Postal Service does not support the bill and the Senate will likely not take up the bill,” Comer said. “This is a political stunt.”

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Republicans in the committee cast DeJoy as a scapegoat for delays that have long defined the Postal Service and insisted Democrats were participating in political theater. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., emphasized this point in his glowing introduction of DeJoy.

“How sad is it when the cancel culture has reached the halls of Congress,” Walker said. “The man sitting before this committee today is not who the Democrats have villainized him to be: he’s here today because he supported President Trump.”

Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, also testified before the committee on Monday, though most of the questions were aimed at DeJoy. The board has come under scrutiny recently for meetings it held with Mnuchin prior to DeJoy’s appointment.

During his opening statement, Duncan, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said when the previous postmaster general announced her retirement, the board was “faced with the most important decision we would make as governors: the selection of the new postmaster general.”

The governors sought someone who would “increase our efficiency and cut down on unnecessary expenses,” and they were particularly interested in a “transformational leader” from the private sector.

“Mr. DeJoy was selected to be that transformational leader, who can help strengthen the Postal Service for the long term,” Duncan said.