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As DeJoy taunts critics, Biden tries to get USPS back on track

Asked how long he intends to lead the USPS, Louis DeJoy boasted, "A long time. Get used to me." The White House has other ideas.
Image: Rep. Katie Porter questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Washington
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy listens to questions from Rep. Katie Porter during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Aug. 24, 2020.Tom Williams / Pool via Reuters file

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former Republican fundraiser and donor, isn't exactly a popular figure. Since he took over the United States Postal Service, mail service has slowed and frustrations have risen.

It was against this backdrop that DeJoy appeared before the House Oversight Committee yesterday, assuring lawmakers that the USPS would "do better" and adding, "Above all, my message is that the status quo is acceptable to no one." There were references to some kind of new "plan," the details of which DeJoy did not share, though NBC News recently reported that the Postal leader intends to raise rates and create new slowdowns for some types of mail.

With many calling for DeJoy's ouster, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) asked him yesterday how long he intended to remain in his position. "A long time," the postmaster general replied. "Get used to me."

For the Republican's many detractors, that wasn't a welcome message. Indeed, while DeJoy was boasting about his USPS future yesterday, the White House was taking steps to fill vacancies on the U.S. Postal Service's board of governors -- which has the sole authority to remove DeJoy from his post.

Biden intends to appoint Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds to the three seats that remain open and cement Democratic oversight of the agency, according to two sources familiar with the president's thinking.... The expected appointments, which would be two men of color (Stroman and Hajjar) and a woman (McReynolds), would greatly diversify the board.

NBC News' report added that the current board of governors is made up of six white men, each of whom has "limited" Postal Service experience. In contrast, Stroman is a former deputy postmaster general, and Hajjar is the former general counsel for American Postal Workers Union.

But just as importantly, if/when the Senate confirms these new nominees, the nine-member board would go from having two Democratic members (a minority) to five Democratic members (a majority), raising the possibility of a vote to oust DeJoy.

None of this is imminent, of course. It'll take time for the Senate to consider and confirm President Joe Biden's nominees, and we don't yet know how much appetite these Democratic board members will have to replace the postmaster general.

But DeJoy seemed awfully confident yesterday about his future hold over the USPS, and there's reason to believe his boasts were misplaced.

Postscript: As controversial as DeJoy's tenure has been, some of his difficulties have had nothing to do with mail delivery. Last fall, for example, questions arose as to whether the Republican participated in a straw-donor scheme before becoming postmaster general, and last week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleged that DeJoy "ordered cuts to overtime for USPS workers last summer," in contradiction to sworn congressional testimony.