The charge by Maloney foreshadowed a brawl between the Democrat-led committee and the Trump-appointed Postal Service leaders over DeJoy’s appointment. DeJoy told the Senate on Friday that any delays caused by changes he implemented upon taking the role were the result of previously implemented policy changes — which he’s now paused until after the election.
But Democrats worry damage has already been done to weaken the Postal Service’s capacity ahead of the November elections. Trump has already indicated he doesn’t support sending new resources to the Postal Service directly because of what he has described without evidence as an attempt by Democrats to rig the election through universal mail-in voting.
The House on Saturday approved a $25 billion infusion of funds to the Postal Service and sought to block some of the organizational changes at USPS. The GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.
Republicans accused Maloney and Democrats of propagating a “baseless conspiracy” about the Postal Service and rushing to pass legislation before waiting to hear from DeJoy.
“This committee is doing things backwards,” said Rep. Jamie Comer (R-Ky.), the ranking Republican on the panel, who described concerns about mail delays as worthy of addressing but accused Democrats of whipping of a frenzy.
“I’m very interested to hear from Mr. DeJoy today about what he has learned about the causes of these delays,” Comer said.
Trump continued to assail mail-in voting over the weekend, and alleging falsely that mail-in ballot drop boxes are unsecured and prone to tampering, ignoring the fact that submitted ballots are cross-checked in state databases for signatures.
Though DeJoy told senators that he has full confidence the Postal Service is equipped for mail-in ballots and is prepared to surge resources to meet the demand, Democrats on the Oversight Committee say they don’t trust his assertions and want to understand how he rose to the post in the first place.
The USPS board of governors selected DeJoy in May, succeeding Postal Service veteran Megan Brennan, who announced her retirement last fall but stayed on through the early months of the pandemic.
Democrats want to understand the role that Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin played in elevating DeJoy to his position. The committee has found that DeJoy wasn’t one of the names initially offered by search firm Russell Reynolds Associates but rather was introduced into the mix by members of the board of governors themselves.
In his opening remarks, Duncan described the search process, which he said began with one goal: “to identify an aspirational leader, capable of taking the Postal Service to new heights.”
Duncan said two “executive search firms” including Russell Reynolds, provided names of candidates, reviewed their backgrounds and narrowed the list from 212 qualified candidates to 53. Then the search firms performed a more intense vetting process to whittle the pool to 14, who were interviewed by the board of governors.
The board cut the pool in half and invited seven candidates for a more intensive interview, selecting four finalists, who were subjected to additional background checks and vetting. DeJoy was unanimously selected by the board at the end of that process, Duncan said.
Democrats say DeJoy has not been candid about the scale and timing of delayed mail that has occurred in recent weeks. Though DeJoy suggested he has played a limited role in these processes, Democrats say a new document they obtained shows that the delays worsened sharply in July, soon after DeJoy began wielding his influence.
“Our entire country is experiencing these delays as a result of Mr. DeJoy’s actions, such as his decision to restrict the number of trips from processing plants to delivery units,” Maloney said.
In his own prepared remarks, DeJoy plans to echo much of what he told the Senate on Friday, defending his selection as postmaster general and insisting his reforms are meant to fix a fiscally dysfunctional agency.
“I embrace the concept of public service as a public trust. I intend to uphold the trust that has been placed in me by the Governors, and in that regard, I have and will continue to abide fully with all of my ethical obligations, despite assertions to the contrary,” DeJoy said. “I have worked closely with ethics officials and have followed their guidance, and will continue to do so. I took this job to give back to my country and to hopefully do some good by putting the Postal Service back on a financially sustainable path.”
DeJoy said the coronavirus pandemic is the culprit for many of USPS’ recent challenges, but even amid the crisis, 99.4 percent of deliveries occur as planned.
“Unprecedented conditions over the last six months, however, have contributed to service instability in certain areas of the country that have escalated,” DeJoy said, according to his remarks.
Originally published: 2020-08-24 09:21:11