Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Denies Trying To ‘Suppress The Vote’ Before Senate Committee
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, answering questions about the organizational changes being made to the U.S. Postal Service months ahead of the presidential election, that will largely be conducted through mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we head in the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time,” DeJoy said. “This sacred duty is my No. 1 priority between now and Election Day.”
DeJoy has defended his structural changes as much-need cost-cutting reforms but agreed to postpone changes “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” he said Tuesday.
Republican Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) supported DeJoy during the two-hour hearing, saying “according to Democrats, the postmaster is trying to sabotage the postal system to disenfranchise voters in the upcoming election.”
However, Democrats still pushed for answers, quoting emails and complaints they had received from their constituents that mail was significantly delayed.
Johnson wondered aloud if the calls were “manufactured,” noting that his office had received several “scripted” calls.
“I have no doubt the Democrats are ginning these issues and these problems up into something that they are not, a very false narrative as I said designed to extract a political advantage, and Mr. Postmaster General, I am very sorry you are on the targeting end of this political hit piece,” Johnson said.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan), testified that he had received approximately 7,500 complaints from constituents regarding the USPS over the last two weeks, saying they were “real people coming forward.”
“Those are very real, and when I hear those kinds of stories, we stand up, it’s the job of every senator here to stand up for our constituents, that’s what this is about, it’s about making sure their voices are heard,” Peters said.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, underscored fears that DeJoy, a mega Trump donor, was working in tandem with the president to undermine mail-in voting, as the president has continued to assert without evidence that mail-in voting is often fraudulent and could lead to a “rigged election” that would need to be redone.
“You can certainly understand that there have been pretty good reasons for people to think that you or your colleagues are purposely acting to suppress voting or that you are going to purposely prevent ballots from being counted,” Romney said. “Any surprise at such concerns has to be tempered by the fact that the president has made repeated claims that mail-in voting will be fraudulent, and that he doesn’t want to give more money to the post office, because without more money, you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”
DeJoy pushed back against these claims, saying he supports voting by mail.
“I was greatly concerned about all the political noise we were hearing … we are very committed, the board is committed, the postal workers [are] committed, the union leadership is committed to having a successful election and the insinuation is quite frankly outrageous,” DeJoy said.
In the hearing, both Democrats and Republicans listened to DeJoy’s pleas for increased funding and agreed to address the USPS’ financial problems that have only been exacerbated during the pandemic.
“Congress certainly must provide the Postal Service with the resources and the oversight that you need to reliably deliver mail for the American people,” Peters said. “We want to make sure we put the Postal Service on sound financial footing that lasts for another 245 years and beyond.”
The day after the hearing, the House passed a bill 257-150 which would put $25 billion into the USPS. The legislation also stipulates that DeJoy’s other cost-cutting initiatives, including eliminating overtime pay and reducing facility hours, be rolled back.
However, it is unclear how the USPS will become financially secure going forward.
“The postal system is not sustainable the way it is now,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told ABC’s This Week. “When you look at the bill that was passed yesterday that bill was not a serious bill. It’s $25 billion, it doesn’t do anything to sustain the postal system long term,” he said, adding that lawmakers should have also tackled a slew of more issues.