We thought we’d be rid of U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy right now.
DeJoy certainly deserves his walking papers, having slowed the nation’s mails during the pandemic and likely attempting to use the postal service to foul up mail-in ballot delivery in a failed bid to help Donald Trump — who appointed him to the post in 2020 — get re-elected as president.
But amazingly, it looks as if DeJoy might not be shown the door now, if at all.
That’s bad for the postal service. And the country.
‘Worst postmaster general’
President Joe Biden lacks the legal power to dump DeJoy. Only the agency’s Board of Governors can do that.
Biden wisely removed two DeJoy supporters from the board last year. But the president’s replacements, Derek Kan and Dan Tangherlini, are stalled in a Senate committee waiting approval.
Meanwhile, the postal Board of Governors this month elected Trump supporter Roman Martinez as its chairman. The retired investment banker praises DeJoy and claims the postmaster is the “person to carry out the restructuring that is needed… He is a transformational leader.”
That doesn’t bode well for any possibility of change at the postal service. And neither does this: The board, composed of Democratic and Republican appointees, unanimously approved Martinez.
A Biden spokesperson last November said the administration has “continued concerns about the postmaster general’s leadership,” as it nominated Kan and Tangherlini to the board.
But Biden certainly undercut that message with Kan’s nomination. A Republican who worked for the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump administration and as a policy adviser for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) seems unlikely to call for DeJoy’s ouster.
So DeJoy will be around for a while.
And during this time, DeJoy will push his plan to save the postal service $58 billion over 10 years by getting rid of hundreds of high-speed mail sorting machines, taking more mailboxes off the street, curbing overtime and hiking prices.
“Postmaster General DeJoy’s plan to raise costs and cut services is designed to sink the postal service, not save it,” U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) said last year.
Meanwhile, Congress could supply a lifeline to the agency this year once it passes a 10-year, $46 billion financial plan that includes halting the requirement the USPS pre-fund retiree health benefits for 75 years.
That rule — something no other federal government agency is required to do — has helped drive the postal service toward near-insolvency for years.
To his credit, DeJoy supports the measure, saying it “is fair, it is needed, and it is urgent.”
If nothing else, DeJoy’s comment again proves that even a busted clock is right twice a day. But it does little to change what has been a horrible tenure as postmaster general — a tenure that, don’t forget, has also been marred by well-documented ethics concerns because of his financial investments in companies that have done business with USPS.
“By any objective measure, Louis DeJoy, a top campaign contributor of Donald Trump, has been, by far and away, the worst postmaster general in the modern history of America,” U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders’ said in a statement in December.
Biden must take firmer hand
That DeJoy would remain postmaster general for any time longer than what it takes to clean out his desk should be troubling news for anyone who cares about the postal service — which should be all of us.
And if Biden is looking to restore confidence in American elections following the GOP shenanigans of 2020, he will have to take a firmer hand to insure DeJoy’s ouster.
We’ve suggested replacing the entire postal Board of Governors with members who are serious about new leadership.
It’s a nuclear option, but it might well be necessary to save and rebuild this once-venerable institution, whose duties are so important they are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.