Post Office Crisis: Pelosi Calls House Back; DeJoy Agrees to Testify

Demonstrators protest against changes in the postal service, outside of the condo of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Washington, U.S., August 15, 2020. REUTERS/Cheriss May
Reuters/ Cheriss May

The official at the heart of the ongoing crisis at the United State Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has voluntarily agreed to testify before a House committee chaired by New York Congressmember Carolyn Maloney.

The legislator, who heads the House Oversight Committee, said Monday that DeJoy would appear before the panel on August 24 to speak “about the sweeping operational and organizational changes he has been making to the Postal Service.”

Amid reports that the USPS had slowed operations to a crawl nationwide and announced concerns that mailed ballots would not be delivered in time for the November presidential election, Maloney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a 10-page letter to DeJoy outlining concerns about the situation. They also requested that he and other USPS officials appear before the oversight panel.

The announcement that DeJoy would appear voluntarily came one day after Pelosi announced that the House of Representative would meet on Saturday, August 22, to consider legislation requiring the Post Office to maintain service at the level that was available on January 1 of this year. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, called on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to call the Senate back into session from its August recess to take up the House measure. McConnell is up for reelection this year, and some Republicans representing rural constituencies have voiced concern about the impact of crippling that crippling postal serves would have on such communities.

There have been reports of USPS mailboxes being padlocked or removed from street corners nationwide, and mail sorting machines being removed from various USPS facilities. These actions came after President Trump, while appearing on Fox News, said he would oppose federal aid for the USPS as the slowdown would also slow the delivery and processing of mailed ballots.

In recent days, Trump made apparent attempts to walk that comment back, saying he would concede to “some funding” for the cash-strapped, yet Constitutionally-required public service. Monday morning, he seemed to claim his earlier remarks about slowing the balloting process down were in jest.

House Democrats, however, are taking Trump’s earlier statements seriously. Maloney noted that the committee has also asked DeJoy to produce information by this Friday, August 21, answering various questions and concerns outlined in the 10-page letter.

“I also look forward to receiving his production of documents other information by this Friday in response to the detailed request I made last week with Speaker Pelosi, [Senate Minority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer, [California Congresswoman Zoe] Lofgren, and Senate Ranking Members [Doug] Peters and [Amy] Klobuchar,” Maloney said in a statement Monday. “The American people want their mail, medicines, and mail-in ballots delivered in a timely way, and they certainly do not want drastic changes and delays in the midst of a global pandemic just months before the election.”

Robert M. Duncan, who chairs the US Postal Service Board of Governors, also agreed to appear with DeJoy at the August 24 hearing.

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James condemned what she called Trump’s “actions to interfere” with the USPS operations as “an attempt at an authoritarian power grab in an effort to hold on to power, plain and simple.”

“I, along with numerous other state attorneys general from around the nation, are now swiftly examining every legal option to protect the postal service and Americans’ right to vote absentee,” James said in a statement. “While the president works to disenfranchise voters, we will fight to protect our democracy and ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November.”

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that DeJoy and his wife have donated $1.2 million to the Trump campaign since 2016 and another $1.2 million to other Republican Party committees. According to filings with the Government Accountability Office, the couple hold investments of somewhere between 30.1 million and $75.3 million in companies that either contract with the Post Office or compete with it.

Citizens concerned about the damage being done to the Post Office can send letters voicing their concern to their senators and House representative by texting “USPS” to 50409, and then respond to the prompts given.

This article originally appeared in Gay City News’ sister publication amny.com. This version includes additional reporting on Speaker Pelosi calling the House back into session and on Postmaster General DeJoy’s political giving and business interests. To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.

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