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Trouble for DeJoy? Biden makes new choices for USPS board

President Joe Biden can't legally fire Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, but he can pick USPS board members who can do it for him.

For those wondering what it would take to remove Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from his post, there's some unexpected news today. The Washington Post reported:

President Biden on Friday announced plans to nominate two former federal officials to the U.S. Postal Service's governing board, replacing key allies of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, including its Democratic chairman. The move was a surprise to postal officials and even members of Congress, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, and casts doubt on DeJoy's future at the agency.

This was not an expected move. The Post's report added, "Bloom as recently as last week told confidants he expected to be renominated, said one person familiar with his conversations. Last week, Trump appointees on the governing board re-elected him as chairman over the objections of Biden appointees."

The governing board, however, is poised to look a little different.

For those who may need a refresher, let's review how we arrived at this point. It wasn't long after DeJoy, a former Republican fundraiser and deputy RNC finance chair, became the postmaster general that he became highly controversial. He is, after all, facing an FBI investigation over a campaign-finance scandal, among other ethics allegations.

DeJoy's problematic policies haven't been well received either: The Republican has, among other things, implemented changes intended to make some mail service "permanently slower."

Biden cannot fire the postmaster general, though he probably wants to. Earlier this year, 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." She added today, "We are, of course, deeply troubled, continue to be deeply troubled, as many Americans are, by the earlier reporting on Postmaster General DeJoy's potential financial conflicts of interest and take serious issues with the job he's doing running the Postal Service."

The governing board of the U.S. Postal Service can remove DeJoy, and the recent confirmation of Biden's nominees to the board increased the odds that it might take such a step, but before today, there was little to suggest his job is in serious jeopardy.

That's because one of the Democratic board members is Ron Bloom, a Trump appointee who's expressed support for DeJoy. In the spring, Bloom told The Atlantic, "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."

Bloom's term, however, is near its end — and the Biden White House announced today that the president intends to replace him with someone new: Daniel Tangherlini, who served as the administrator of the General Services Administration during the Obama administration.

Similarly, the White House also announced that Derek Kan, a Republican and the former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, would replace Republican John Barger, a current USPS board member.

That leaves us with a numbers game: The Postal Service's governing board has nine members, but no party can have more than five members. Currently, six of the nine are Trump appointees, but one of his sextet is Bloom — a Democrat who's backed DeJoy. Given this makeup, the postmaster general has been relatively safe, at least from the board.

But that appears likely to change. Three of the nine members are Biden appointees — two Democrats and an independent — and now the incumbent president has nominated two more: One Democrat to succeed Bloom, and one Republican to succeed Barger.

As a matter of arithmetic, this would give Biden appointees a majority on the board — three Democrats, a Republican, and an independent — which would presumably spell trouble for DeJoy and his controversial postal plan. Watch this space.