Louis DeJoy testified that he needs to “get back” to Congress on whether there’s a plan to ensure mail-in ballots arrive in time for election.
House Democrats grilled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Monday for more information about recent reports of mail slowdowns, mailbox removals, and delayed delivery of mail-in ballots.
DeJoy was appointed to the position of postmaster general in May, and vowed to make massive changes at the agency to make it more financially sound. But as those changes were implemented, states have reported significant mail slowdowns and led the United States Postal Service (USPS) to warn over 40 states that mail-in ballots may not arrive in time for November’s general election.
The changes at USPS became a major national story, and House Democrats returned from a congressional recess this weekend to pass legislation that would prohibit USPS from making further changes. DeJoy has since said he would suspend his “cost-saving” policies before the election, but lawmakers have expressed concern that the changes were implemented originally to slow down the mail and influence the 2020 election.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee grilled DeJoy on the changes and his reasons for implementing them.
“We have all been flooded with concerns and complaints from our constituents about the delay in the mail,” Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said in her opening statement. “[The Postal Service is] a major institution in our country, people depend on it.”
She explained that the committee received an internal report from USPS, published on August 12, that shows a significant decrease in service.
“This document clearly shows major degradations across the board beginning in July when you started your changes,” she said.
Maloney said USPS saw an 8.1% decrease in service since DeJoy started, and that the postmaster general and his aides have repeatedly downplayed the delays during testimony and public statements.
“This is just a disaster for the people who need their mail,” Maloney said. “This [report] is essentially your report card for that period of time, if any other CEO had this kind of plummeting record in his first two months on the job I can’t imagine why he would be kept on.”
When Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) asked DeJoy if he had a plan to make sure ballots were delivered on time, DeJoy said: “I need to get back to you.”
“If there is a plan that we, that we can, I mean — it’s normal processing procedures plus enhanced processing procedures around an election. I can probably give you some type of summarized objectives that we’ll try, that we’ll try to fulfill,” DeJoy continued.
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) pointed out that USPS had run on time in other challenging times, like the Civil War and immediately after 9/11. However, under DeJoy’s leadership, the agency has been forced to warn states that mail-in ballots might not arrive on time to be counted for the election.
“After 240 years of patriotic service delivering the mail, how can one person screw this up in just a few weeks?” Lynch asked DeJoy. Lynch explained that based on the facts he came to two possible conclusions. “One, either through gross incompetence you have ended the 240 year history of delivering the mail reliably on time, or the second conclusion that we could gather is that you’re doing this on purpose and you’re deliberately dismantling this once proud tradition.”
Lynch also asked DeJoy if he would replace the mail sorting machines that have already been removed.
“I will not,” DeJoy responded. “And every accusation you made other than the truck schedule is inaccurate and more misinformation for the American public.”
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) told DeJoy that delaying the mail will essentially move up the voting deadline for many Americans. He asked DeJoy about his campaign donations and whether DeJoy himself rewarded any of his executive colleagues for contributing to the Trump campaign.
“Do your mail delays fit Trump’s campaign goal of hurting the post office as he stated in his tweets? Are your mail delays implicit campaign contributions?” Cooper asked.
In response, DeJoy said that he was not appearing before the committee to answer these types of questions.
“I’m here to represent the postal service, all my actions have to do with improving the postal service,” DeJoy said.
At the end of his time asking DeJoy questions, Cooper asked the postmaster general if his backup plan was to be pardoned by President Trump like Roger Stone.
“I have no comment on that,” DeJoy said.