The U.S. Postal Service quietly made some news late last week, announcing a postage rate hike to take effect in August. The move was part of a new, 10-year plan unveiled by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who remains at his post despite a series of controversies.
Coincidentally, right around the time the USPS announced plans to raise the price of stamps, there were some related developments on Capitol Hill, which may have a direct effect on DeJoy's future plans.
All three of President Joe Biden's nominees to the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service have been approved by the Senate, increasing Democratic influence over the agency as its leaders move to overhaul mail operations. Lawmakers on Friday approved the nomination of Anton Hajjar, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union. Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general, and Amber McReynolds, who leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute, were approved earlier this month.
Hajjar was confirmed on Friday by a voice vote. As a result, the USPS Board of Governors has no vacancies for the first time in more than a decade.
So, what happens now?
Remember, despite considerable speculation about President Joe Biden firing DeJoy, that has never been a legal option: the USPS can oust the postmaster general, but the president cannot.
That said, Biden doesn't appear eager for DeJoy to stick around. A few months ago, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, "I think we can all agree -- most Americans would agree -- that the Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job."
In context, the presidential spokesperson specifically referenced Biden's three USPS nominees, suggesting the White House expected the new members of the Board of Governors to change the Postal Service's direction.
In theory, that's now possible: it's a nine-member board, and now that Hajjar has been confirmed, there are four Democrats and a Biden-appointed independent. These five members should be in a position to make significant changes, including ousting DeJoy.
In practice, however, one of the Democratic board members is Ron Bloom, a Trump appointee who's expressed support for DeJoy. As recently as April, Bloom, who currently chairs the USPS board, told The Atlantic, in reference to the controversial postmaster general, "Right now, I think [DeJoy is] the proper man for the job. He's earned my support, and he will have it until he doesn't. And I have no particular reason to believe he will lose it."
What happens next is tough to predict, but the fight is likely to be intense. The USPS effectively operates as an independent agency, but the more the White House and congressional Democrats push for DeJoy's ouster, the more Democratic board members will feel pressured to make a leadership change. Watch this space.