During Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) noted that, despite the fact that people of color make up a sizeable share of United States Postal Service (USPS) employees, the postal service board is entirely made up of white men.
“Currently the board includes only white men. This grotesque lack of representation is a critical opportunity to diversify the board’s ranks,” said Bush. “An agency with over 640,000 employees that come from every walk of life and serve the entire American public should have representation at the top reflective of the broader American population. More than 35 percent of postal workers are people of color, while zero percent of governors are.”
People of color represent a larger percentage of postal workers than in the U.S. population at large. While 23 percent of postal workers are Black, for instance, Black people make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population.
The USPS board of governors is currently made up of six white men and has three vacancies. These board members were all appointed by Donald Trump and they helped select DeJoy — who has many ties to Trump and the Republican party — for the top position last year as Trump and the GOP set about attacking the USPS.
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Wednesday’s hearing was part of a series of attempts by Congress to question DeJoy on his gutting of the postal service since he took the helm. Installing DeJoy to gut the USPS was an integral element of Trump’s plan last year to sow discord and distrust in the 2020 election.
Though Trump lost, the problems with USPS have remained as mail delays continue well into 2021. Those delays are likely to continue, as DeJoy said on Wednesday that the USPS’s forthcoming strategic plan may include further provisions to slow down mail, including removing mail from air transportation and slowing down first-class mail.
As the face and driving force behind the slow dismantling of the postal service, DeJoy has come under much fire for not only his actions as the postmaster general but also for his dealings in the private sector.
A new report by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found that XPO Logistics, a transportation company where DeJoy was formerly an executive, was awarded a Christmas contract by USPS last year to help with seasonal deliveries. While it’s unclear whether or not DeJoy was fully divested from the company at the time and if the contract was routine, it raises questions about potential conflicts of interest that DeJoy may have. This contract is, after all, on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the USPS paid to the company while DeJoy worked there.
But it’s not only DeJoy who’s been under scrutiny. Almost all of the members of the board have financial ties to Trump and the Republican party and, as Bush pointed out on Wednesday, have backgrounds in elite finance jobs that, in some cases, may represent conflicts of interest.
“The positions that are filled and are not supposed to be represented by special interests actually include Wall Street bankers and fossil fuel lobbyists,” said Bush.
“Do you see it as a problem that the board of governors of the United States Postal Service looks like a millionaire white boys club?” Bush asked DeJoy. DeJoy responded that the board isn’t currently full and said that it’s the president’s problem to solve.
“The quicker we get some new board members from the new administration, the less we can talk about this and move on to the plan and the real problems we need to fix here,” said DeJoy in response.
But, since the current board that chose him is made up of people who have similar interests and similar political ties to DeJoy, filling the board under the current president may not actually be in his best interest if he wants to keep his job, which he appears to think is going to happen. He said he intends to be around “a long time,” and told lawmakers at the hearing that they should “get used to [him].”
That may not soon be the case, however. On Wednesday, Joe Biden announced three picks to fill the empty seats on the board that will add to its racial and gender diversity. Since Biden took office, there have been many calls by Democrats to fill the seats with Democrats who could oust the Trump-loyalist postmaster general.
Biden has tapped former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman, National Vote at Home Institute head Amber McReynolds and former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union Anton Hajjar. McReynolds is a woman and Stroman and Hajjar are men of color.
Though Biden can’t fire DeJoy directly, his picks, if confirmed, may be able to remove him. There are currently two Democrats and four Republicans on the board, partly because Republicans refused to confirm Barack Obama’s appointments, leaving Trump to fill the empty seats. If Biden’s picks are confirmed, he can create a 5-4 majority that can then vote to push DeJoy out.