Though Joe Biden has been president for more than two months now, his predecessor’s sabotaging of the United States Postal Service (USPS) ahead of the 2020 election persists as people across the country await packages, bills and even medications that are late and delayed.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s solution to the USPS’s woes? A plan that would very likely lead to more service delays, according to The New York Times. The plan looks to “stabilize the agency’s finances over 10 years that is expected to prioritize reliability and cost effectiveness over speed,” writes The New York Times’s Hailey Fuchs. “It almost certainly would slow the delivery of some mail even further.”
DeJoy plans to propose eliminating using airplanes to deliver first-class mail, Fuchs reports, and raising the delivery time for first-class mail from within three days to within five days. He is also reportedly considering closing processing facilities and further cutting USPS office hours. Previous reporting has found that DeJoy also wants to raise prices for mail services despite providing worse service — a change that he views as “imminent.”
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“The service standards they have today have never been enforced. Customers are not getting the service they pay for already,” Michael Plunkett, president and chief executive of postal commerce advocacy group PostCom, told The Washington Post.
Not all hope is lost for those who don’t wish for further service delays, however. Some of these changes like removing first-class mail from airplanes, Government Executive reports, would require approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission, which is now headed by a Biden-appointed Democrat.
Service delays have plagued the USPS for months as DeJoy gutted the service over the course of a few months in 2020. Changes like removing sorting machines, limiting overtime and prohibiting mail carriers from making extra trips to deliver late mail have all caused, even almost a year later, lost, late and delayed packages. Under DeJoy, the USPS has also repeatedly defied promises and orders to account for these changes.
Many of the changes were seemingly at the behest of former President Donald Trump, who admitted that his attacks on the service preceded an election that was conducted in large part by mail-in voting. DeJoy was nominated by a board of governors with many members appointed by Trump and who have financial and political ties to the Republican Party.
Calls for DeJoy’s removal as postmaster general have persisted for months, and a group of 53 House Democrats last week called on President Joe Biden to immediately terminate all six of the current members of the agency’s board.
“Under the tenure of this [board of governors], the Postal Service was blatantly misused by President Trump in an unsuccessful gambit to influence a presidential election, the Postal Service is currently failing to meet its own service standards with historically low rates of on-time delivery, and conflicts of interest appear to be a requirement for service,” the Democrats wrote. They note that the delays plaguing the service have been “self-inflicted.”
Biden has not shown interest in removing all of the members of the board, but has nominated new board members who could, together with other Democratic members, vote to oust DeJoy. Biden does not have the power to remove DeJoy himself.
Biden’s new board members may also solve a representation issue that Democratic Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) pointed out last month. “Currently the board includes only white men. This grotesque lack of representation is a critical opportunity to diversify the board’s ranks,” said Bush during a hearing with DeJoy. “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?”
All of the current members of the board are white, while Biden’s nominees include two men of color, former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman and former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union Anton Hajjar; and a woman, National Vote at Home Institute head Amber McReynolds. It is not yet clear when the Senate will hear and vote on the confirmation of Biden’s appointments.