Postmaster General Retreats, But Is It Enough?

FILE PHOTO: An individual mails letters through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Philadelphia
it’s unclear whether the retreat by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy represents a genuine commitment to protect the vote in November.
Reuters File Photo

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday he’s backing down from a series of operational changes viewed as detrimental to the 2020 presidential election, just two and a half months away — but it remains unclear if the sorting equipment and mailboxes that have been removed will be restored. He said he would hold off on what he has characterized as “reforms” until after November 3.

DeJoy’s concession came as he prepares to appear before a US Senate Committee on Friday and a House committee on Monday to explain what has been going on in the Postal Service in recent months. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the House back into session for Saturday to take up a measure that would infuse $25 billion into the ailing agency.

“There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge,” DeJoy said of the massive increase in mail-in voting anticipated this fall due to the coronavirus. “I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.”

President Donald Trump alarmed Democrats last week when he said on Fox News that he did not support delivering new funds to the USPS based on his belief that it would only support people’s right to mail-in voting, which he claims, without any evidence, would be a a system riddled with fraud. Opponents have regarded this stance alongside the actions taken by DeJoy as voter disenfranchisement.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that DeJoy and his wife have donated $1.2 million to the Trump campaign since 2016 and another $1.2 million to other Republican Party committees. According to filings with the Government Accountability Office, the couple hold investments of somewhere between 30.1 million and $75.3 million in companies that either contract with the Post Office or compete with it.

This past weekend, demonstrators angered by the Post Office’s recent action protested outside DeJoy’s apartment building in Washington, DC.

New York Congressmember Carolyn Maloney introduced legislation last week known as the Delivering for America Act which would require the USPS t0 operate at its a pre-pandemic levels until either COVID-19 is a thing of the past or January 2021. Maloney’s measure contains the $25 billion infusion for the Post Office.

CNN reported in on August 13 that the USPS had removed a total of 671 sorting machines from locations in multiple states, to which postal officials responded the action was normal procedure considering the ongoing increase in package deliveries, but the decreasing number of letters being mailed.

The USPS did not respond to a query about whether postal assets moved in recent months would be restored to their original, pre-pandemic configuratiol.

DeJoy is expected to go before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and then before the House Congressional Oversight Committee, chaired by Maloney, on Monday.