Tensions were high on Friday as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee over fears that recent reforms DeJoy has pushed could sabotage the 2020 presidential election. In several heated exchanges between senators and DeJoy, the postmaster general claimed many of the service slowdowns were a result of COVID-19, despite such issues not occurring until July.
DeJoy repeatedly refused to commit to turning over written transcripts of his meetings with governors and other official documents related to service changes resulting in delayed mail deliveries.
“I don't know, I don't have the authority to do some of those things. And that is something that I would need to discuss with counsel and the board's counsel, so I can't commit to that," DeJoy said when asked about meeting minutes. Though he did admit that some of the changes in operations since he took over had resulted in mail delays, DeJoy told the committee he would not restore mail sorting machines that have been removed from various locations nationwide. “There’s no intention to do that,” DeJoy said, arguing the machines are “not needed.”
DeJoy said that he feels “bad about the dip in our service.” But his testimony on the matter did not restore confidence in the postmaster general, as people took their concerns to Twitter and demanded he resign from his position.
This comes as no surprise, though, considering the damage that DeJoy's tenure as postmaster general has caused in a matter of months. Since widespread service changes have been implemented at the United States Postal Service, senators have received an uptick in calls from constituents, including veterans, people with disabilities, seniors, and people living in rural areas who were not receiving necessary items in time.
Following his appointment in May, DeJoy has cut overtime for mail carriers, and removed hundreds of mail sorting machines, which he argued were in the name of saving money. The changes were met with backlash from USPS union workers, and congressional Democrats. Meanwhile, President Trump continues to prevent the USPS from receiving $25 billion in emergency COVID relief funding.
"There's some just heartbreaking stories," said Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who shared a story about a constituent whose inhaler refill was delayed. “Due to delays, he ran out of it while waiting for it to arrive and then his insurance said, 'You know what, we're not going to pay for another refill to be filled because it's already been shipped through the Postal Service.’”
Thousands of people are expected to take these calls to the streets in the coming days, with solidarity actions with the USPS planned across the country over the weekend and early next week. DeJoy, for his part, may want to start paying attention to these calls to action.