The House Oversight Committee is preparing to issue a subpoena to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for documents related to the nationwide mail delays that he is “withholding from Congress,” Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said Monday.
The committee said in a memo that it intends to issue a subpoena for documents related to “nationwide delays caused by changes to postal operations” after DeJoy, a top Trump and Republican Party donor, refused to cooperate with the panel’s requests.
Maloney said DeJoy has not turned over additional documents after he appeared before the committee last week. Maloney plans to issue the subpoena on Wednesday.
DeJoy said in a letter to the committee on Friday that he believes his testimony “clarified any outstanding questions you had regarding operational changes that I have implemented.” DeJoy disputed that he was responsible for operational changes that have been blamed for the slowdown but said he had no plans to roll back changes and would continue to implement new policies after November’s election. DeJoy said in the letter that USPS staff were “working with the Oversight committee to identify and provide materials requested during the hearing.”
Democrats had asked DeJoy to provide any analysis the USPS ran on the effect of the operational changes implemented since DeJoy took over the agency in June, which included eliminating extra mail delivery trips.
The Oversight Committee said that despite DeJoy and aides’ attempts to downplay the “extent and gravity” of the delays, “headlines from states across the nation have made clear that they are far worse than previously disclosed.”
Despite DeJoy’s vow to provide all relevant documents to the panel, “he has not produced a single additional document” since the hearing last Monday, the committee said.
The letter said that documents DeJoy has released have been “woefully inadequate” and failed to respond to Democrats’ concerns. The letter noted that despite repeated inquiries about USPS efforts to remove mail sorting machines from post offices, lawmakers did not learn of the plans until “internal Postal Service documents were leaked to the press.”
Maloney threatened to subpoena DeJoy during the hearing after grilling him over an internal assessment of USPS performance that showed a significant slowdown after DeJoy took over the agency. Maloney questioned why the committee learned about the assessment from a whistleblower when the panel had asked the USPS to turn over documents related to the agency’s performance.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also questioned whether DeJoy would turn over his personal calendar. The congresswoman asked whether DeJoy, the former CEO of USPS contractor XPO Logistics, had met with any former colleagues during his tenure. She called for Maloney to issue a subpoena if the USPS did not turn over the calendar.
“The details of this calendar are extraordinarily important to the committee’s investigations,” she said. “If we cannot receive them voluntarily, I would recommend consideration of a subpoena for these details.”
Democrats, who passed a bill that would provide $25 billion in funding to aid the cash-strapped agency, have particularly been concerned with the slowdown’s potential effect on the delivery of mail ballots in the upcoming election. The USPS warned 46 states that it may not be able to deliver ballots in time for their deadlines, and President Trump has threatened to withhold funding from the agency in an evident effort to undermine timely mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
DeJoy, who had acknowledged that changes made during his tenure have resulted in “unintended consequences,” said he would temporarily pause policy changes until after the election to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
But despite DeJoy’s claim, postal workers around the country say the policies already implemented have caused mail to pile up. DeJoy has said he has no plans to return the hundreds of mail sorting machines that have already been removed or reverse any other changes.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Keith Richardson, a longtime postal clerk who serves as the president of the American Postal Workers Union chapter in Chicago, told NBC News. “Some stations have so much mail backed up, it’s three times more than the volume you would see at Christmas. You can’t even walk down the aisles. It’s a wonder carriers can get in and out.”
“We have more packages in our facility right now than we do at the holidays,” added Ramona Chavez, the vice president of the American Postal Workers Union chapter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We have a mail handler group on Facebook and we’re all reporting the same thing. We’re all understaffed. Everybody’s just doing everything they possibly can. Delays are our new normal.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., the chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, said the subpoena was intended to “restore confidence” in the postal system.
“Congress must assert itself. The public demands it,” he said. “Today’s action is a necessary step in our efforts to hold the Trump administration accountable for its deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service.”