Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Won’t Restore Cuts But Will Postpone Further Changes To USPS After Criticism
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is suspending “longstanding operational initiatives” at the U.S. Postal Service “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
The announcement came Tuesday, after bipartisan criticism that organizational changes were delaying mail and threatening the validity of ballots submitted by mail in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
DeJoy said that “mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are” and that “overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.”
He also announced an expansion of the USPS’s task force on election mail, noting that “leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining the task force.”
However, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DeJoy won’t restore any of the service cuts that he has already made.
The recent Trump appointee quickly implemented a series of changes designed to cut costs, as the pandemic continues to push the USPS into deeper financial trouble. However, some of the changes, including the elimination of overtime pay, had resulted in weeks-long delays of mail in some areas.
DeJoy’s changes have come under intense scrutiny, particularly after the the USPS sent letters to 46 states and Washington D.C. stating that the could not guarantee the arrival of all ballots before Nov. 3, which in 34 states, would disqualify the ballot.
Two Democratic lawmakers had also pushed for criminal investigations into the Postmaster’s activity. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), the Chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter questioning the initiatives. The changes prompted protesters to congregate outside Dejoy’s apartment, and caused a group of Democratic state attorneys general to file lawsuits earlier Tuesday aimed at stopping the changes.
“We are moving forward to hold the Trump Administration accountable,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement after DeJoy’s announcement.
DeJoy’s changes also prompted several Congressional hearings during which he will testify. On Friday, he will appear for a hearing at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and then will appear Monday at a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan), said in a statement that DeJoy still needs to answer questions about any “future changes her plans to enact.”
“While it is a positive development that the Postmaster General says he will be temporarily rolling back some of these harmful changes as I have demanded – there are still too many unanswered questions,” Peters said. “The American people deserve to know whether he will be returning sorting machines he already removed from facilities across the country, the details of any changes he is leaving in place and any future changes he plans to enact.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) attributed DeJoy’s postponement to the public pressure.
“They felt the heat. And that’s what we were trying to do, make it too hot for them to handle,” Pelosi told Politico Playbook.
DeJoy did not include whether he would roll back any changes that have already been implemented, such as removed mailboxes or operational shifts.
DeJoy’s statement does not address whether changes that have already been made – like removed equipment or changes in operational practices – would be rolled back.