Tomorrow the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will conduct an important hearing with three of President Biden’s nominees to serve on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. In addition to vetting the nominees, the Senate has a duty to defuse the rampant political rancor surrounding the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) at an especially critical time in USPS’s history.
On March 18, 2021, 50 House Democrats wrote to President Biden with an extraordinary request: fire all six members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, including two Democrats. Their primary aim is to have Postmaster General Louis DeJoy removed, and only the Board of Governors can do that.
DeJoy is a Republican and a former mega-fundraiser for President Donald Trump and the Republican Party. All indications are DeJoy has earned support from the two Democrats on the Board of Governors. This includes Board Chair Ron Bloom who testified at a February 24 hearing, “The Board of Governors believes the Postmaster General in very difficult circumstances is doing a good job.”
Removing the Governors is unwise and would lead to operational chaos at USPS with no leadership at the helm.
Fredric Rolando, President of the 290,000-member National Association of Letter Carriers recognizes this. Yesterday, The American Prospect, a progressive publication, shared a blunt March 25 letter he wrote to the House Democrats strongly opposing the Board firings.
“We do not support firing any of the members of the Board of Governors,” said Rolando. He added that he is pleased with DeJoy’s “support for 6-day service for letters and 7-day service for packages … unlike his three immediate predecessors.”
Rolando makes clear that bickering over the Board also distracts from more serious problems at USPS.
“I believe that our top priority right now should be to build bipartisan support for postal reform in the House of Representatives. It is essential because we will absolutely need bipartisan support in the Senate to achieve such reform, which is in turn essential for our long-term survival,” said Rolando. “I also think that a bitter partisan fight over the Postal Service and its Board of Governors at this moment, justified or otherwise, will undermine the achievement of this top priority,” he said.
Addressing the USPS Board of Governors Controversy
The first series of questions that all nominees at Thursday’s hearing should be asked are the following:
- Do you believe Louis DeJoy should be fired, and as a member of the Board of Governors would you vote to fire him?
- Has anyone in the White House or the Biden Administration conditioned your nomination on supporting the firing of Postmaster General DeJoy?
- Do you believe the six current members of the Board of Governors, with whom you will be serving if you are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, should be fired by President Biden?
Ideally, the questions will be yes or no, and the answers short. If any of the nominees has a preconceived idea that Louis DeJoy or other board members should be fired, that nominee should not be confirmed.
Furthermore, even if all three nominees are confirmed, DeJoy appears to have support from at least Chair Bloom and is thus not likely to be removed. Nor has President Biden indicated he is likely to fire the entire Board of Governors, a drastic step that would create operational chaos at the organization for months, if not years.
The Questions that Really Matter
Since last summer, the metrics of mail service quality are the worst they have ever been, leading to economic and personal distress for many Americans. The U.S. Postal Service is deep in debt and projected to lose an additional $160 billion over the next decade. A 10-year strategic plan, issued on March 23, 2021, provides a framework for reform, but merits changes and further detailed information.
Key questions in this regard include the following.
Do you agree that the U.S. Postal Service should be self-supporting, a central tenet of the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act?
Which services, if any, of the U.S. Postal Service, should be subsidized?
Do you think the U.S. Postal Service and/or Congress should subsidize large commercial mailers? Large package shipping companies? Why or why not?
Do you believe the U.S. Postal Service should revise its 10-year strategic plan to provide an alternative whereby it improves mail delivery and can meet the standards implemented in 2012?
Under the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, revenues from mail are not to subsidize packages. Will you support investments in a modern-costing system, as called for in 2014 and 2019 by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General?
Do you support having the U.S. Postal Service provide weekly statistics about its mail and package delivery performance? Why or why not?
It is time to move from theatrics to substance on public discussions about the U.S. Postal Service. The American people expect that, and at tomorrow’s hearing the Senate has an opportunity to shift the public dialogue to its proper path.
# # #
About the Author: Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
Find Archived Articles: