Postal Board Nears Democratic Majority That Might Keep DeJoy
(Bloomberg) -- The Senate advanced on Wednesday three Biden nominees for the U.S. Postal Service board who would form a Democratic majority, but it’s no longer clear they would push to dismiss Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Both incumbent Democratic board members including Chairman Ron Bloom have expressed support for DeJoy, whose restructuring of the service has drawn widespread criticism.
Bloom in February told House lawmakers that “the board of governors believes that the Postmaster General in very difficult circumstances is doing a good job.” He told The Atlantic magazine for an article published April 21 that DeJoy “earned my support.”
It would be a stunning turnabout for a former Trump donor whose replacement was urged in a letter last month signed by 50 lawmakers, and had been accused of letting service slow during an election that drew a surge in mail-in voting.
Bloom’s comments “do not seem to be the actions of a guy who would move take out DeJoy,” said Michael Plunkett, president of PostCom, a trade group for companies that are Postal Service customers. “I just don’t see it.”
Paul Steidler, a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, agreed.
“You can bet the ranch on it,” Steidler said in an interview. “There is absolutely no evidence they are going to vote to remove Louis DeJoy.”
The nominees to the postal board -- two Democrats and an independent -- were approved on largely party-line votes by the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee and now face a vote by the full chamber.
The three would give Democrats and Biden appointees a 5-to-4 majority on the board that’s been dominated by Republicans, and that hired DeJoy last year. Mail delivery slowed after his arrival in June. Democrats expressed alarm the delays might affect the presidential election, as millions voted by mail to avoid coronavirus exposure.
Senators made scant mention of DeJoy at the nominees’ April 22 hearing, and the three agreed to a statement that nobody had sought commitments to fire him.
The three nominees are Democrats Anton Hajjar, a former postal union lawyer; Ronald Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; and the independent, Amber McReynolds, an advocate of voting by mail.
There’s still plenty of opposition to DeJoy.
Fifty House lawmakers on March 18 called on Biden to dismiss all six incumbent governors and replace them with nominees like the three he had already chosen. In a letter they said DeJoy’s tenure was marked by “controversy and poor service.”
On Wednesday, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., a New Jersey Democrat, reiterated the call.
“I continue to urge the President to fire all the sitting governors, who have been silent and complicit to the DeJoy sabotage,” Pascrell said in an email. “Their unquestioning support for this postmaster general is unacceptable. Once they are removed, Louis DeJoy should be sent packing.”
DeJoy, a logistics executive, was a Republican donor to former President Donald Trump. He earlier told House lawmakers he isn’t a political appointee but a choice of the bipartisan board of governors. “Get used to me,” he said.
In February, Biden’s top spokeswoman said the president wanted to see leaders who can do a “better job” running the Postal Service.”
On Wednesday, the White House declined to comment.
DeJoy and Bloom together have proposed slowing First Class mail and raising rates to help the Postal Service avoid bigger financial deficits and eroding service.
Mail delivery still hasn’t recovered from a slowdown that began after DeJoy cut overtime and extra trips by delivery trucks last year in an effort to rein in costs. He suspended changes after the outcry from Democrats.
During the presidential campaign the Postal Service boosted efforts and ballots reached election officials on time and in an average of 1.6 days, Bloom said earlier in congressional testimony.
Mail service remains sluggish after a deep holiday slump. Nationwide, about 87% of First-Class mail arrived on time the week ending April 2, short of the target of 95%, according to a Postal Service filing. The figure dipped as low as 62% in late December.
David Partenheimer, a Postal Service spokesman, in a statement Wednesday said the service thanks Biden for the nominations.
“The public interest and the Postal Service are best served by having governors who bring diverse insights, unique perspectives, leadership and professional experiences to help inform our decision making,” Partenheimer said.
When asked about Bloom’s stance on DeJoy, Partenheimer referred to the April 21 magazine piece.
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