USPS’ DeJoy to Congress: ‘Get used to me’

By | February 24, 2021

Louis DeJoy, the embattled postmaster general, said on Wednesday he is not going anywhere as he faces withering criticism of his leadership of the U.S. Postal Service and calls for President Joe Biden to move to oust him.

Testifying at a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting, DeJoy said he intended to be around “a long time.”

“Get used to me,” he said.

The postmaster general at times appeared perturbed by the line of questioning from members of Congress, as well as critical media coverage of him and the USPS during his watch.

DeJoy pointedly noted that he is not a presidential appointee, interjecting at one point to correct a Democratic committee member who characterized him as a “Trump holdover.”

“I’m not a political appointee,” he said. “I’d really appreciate if you’d get that straight.”

DeJoy’s comments came as he, Postal Board Chair Ron Bloom and other officials testified about the need for legislation to shore up the service’s financial position.

The USPS has reported billions in net losses annually in recent years, and Bloom testified that it is projected to lose roughly $160 billion over the next 10 years without significant reforms.

A proposal to require postal employees to enroll in Medicare, potentially saving more than $40 billion over the next decade, and eliminate a requirement that USPS pre-fund retirees’ health benefits was a rare point of agreement between DeJoy and others.

However, “it doesn’t solve the problem” on its own, DeJoy added.

“We are on a death spiral,” he said. “We cannot, even with this legislation, we cannot continue to lose money.”

DeJoy acknowledged that the postal service’s performance sagged last year, but said the USPS faces structural problems that have been glaring for years predating his appointment last year.

“The years of financial stress, underinvestment, unachievable service standards and lack of operational precision have resulted in a system that does not have adequate resiliency to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances,” he testified.

DeJoy told committee members that a strategic plan should be ready by sometime in March. But several possible changes he previewed — including lowering delivery standards for first-class mail and reducing use of airplanes to transport mail throughout the country — drew a chilly reception from Congress.

“It sounds like your solution to the problems you’ve identified is just surrender,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-M.d.) said. “You’re basically saying because the mail has been late under your leadership, we’re just going to change the standards and build it into the system.”

DeJoy disputed such characterizations, but testified that postal officials “are evaluating all service standards.”

Republicans on the committee largely defended DeJoy and accused their Democratic counterparts of grandstanding and unfairly maligning the postmaster general and his attempts to reform the postal service.

“I wish we’d given you more credit for that instead of trying to second-guess you and nitpick and micromanage you,” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said.

Republicans argued he was being scapegoated, particularly for how ballots were handled in the run-up to the November elections, a posture that at times led to testy exchanges between members of the committee.

Several of the changes implemented last year under DeJoy were halted in response to heated outrage over mounting delays.

For weeks Democrats have been pressuring Biden to take steps to remove DeJoy, and the president has vowed to swiftly appoint new members of the board that oversees the postmaster general. There are three open seats on the USPS Board of Governors.