Senate Takes Crucial Step Towards Firing Louis DeJoy

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has now voted in favor of Biden postal board nominees Anton Hajjar, Amber McReynolds, and Ronald Stroman, moving their nominations to a final vote in the full chamber, where the three seem slated to get confirmed. Biden has nominated the three of them for spots on the Postal Service Board of Governors, which — among other responsibilities — handles the appointment of the Postmaster General. Thus, firing controversial Postmaster General Louis DeJoy would have to be the work of the board, not the president.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) voted in favor of all three postal board nominees who went before the committee, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voted in favor of McReynolds and Stroman. The Republican support — even if low — for the nominees suggests that they’re set for final confirmation by the full Senate even if a Democrat or two were to decide that they’re voting against any of the nominations for whatever reason.

Hajjar, McReynolds, and Stroman are set, if confirmed, to assume three spots on the nine-member board that are currently empty. All six of the board’s current members are appointees of ex-President Donald Trump, although a couple of these current members are Democrats because of a requirement for no more than five board members from the same political party. Thus, with Biden’s nominees confirmed, the board would have five Democratic members and four Republicans, suggesting that DeJoy’s job could be in jeopardy.

DeJoy has attracted steep criticism over issues that have unfolded while he’s been on the job including declines in on-time delivery rates. Observers worried ahead of the 2020 presidential election that the slowdowns could negatively affect mail-in voters, and although the Postal Service seems to have, as a rule, successfully transmitted mail-in ballots during the election cycle, whether or not that would be the case should not be an open question!

Although the Postal Service singled out election-related mail for special expedited delivery efforts ahead of the 2020 election, DeJoy has proposed (among other long-term changes) expanding the delivery window for much of the first-class mail that the Postal Service handles, making mail delivery take longer. He has cast his proposed policy changes as an effort to cut costs, although as a critical public service that, in cases like medication delivery, conducts potentially imperative work, making money is not the main impetus of the Postal Service.

Some of the Postal Service’s financial struggles have stemmed from a requirement for the agency to pre-fund retiree benefits, and House Oversight Committer chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) has been working on developing legislation that would eliminate this costly requirement and have postal employees set up for Medicare benefits instead.