Senior Republican official warns postal reform in danger if DeJoy’s job is threatened

While the Postal Bill is likely to pass regardless of Comer’s vote, thanks to the staunch support of Senate Republicans, the loss of one of the top relevant committee heads in the House and Senate would undermine the Democrats’ attempt at bipartisan unity and threaten the support of other Republicans in the House. And given that Comer is set to become the next oversight chairman if Republicans take the House again next year, in charge of subpoenas and other investigative efforts, alienate him on postal reform. would trigger a GOP majority on a rough note for the Biden administration.

Comer and other Republicans argue Democrats politicized DeJoy simply because Trump appointed him to the post and he became a punching bag for Democrats because of the drastic financial cuts he made to arrest financial losses to the USPS. A DeJoy successor who won’t make the tough calls needed to make USPS self-sufficient is untenable for Comer, who wants clarification from Biden on any possible replacement.

DeJoy’s predecessor, Megan Brennan, missed her self-imposed deadline for presenting a 10-year business plan to the committee in 2019. At that time, the Oversight President and senior Republican expressed frustration with him in the midst of their work on a bipartisan plan for USPS Reform.

But Comer’s concerns about DeJoy’s withdrawal may be premature. Several sources who work closely with the USPS, speaking frankly on condition of anonymity, played down concerns about an impending ouster, given that nominating hearings for Biden’s postal board candidates are months away. Postal reform legislation, on the other hand, can move faster in Congress if its support remains bipartisan.

Still, there are signs that the Biden administration is seeking to undermine the leadership of the USPS. Of particular concern for Comer: Biden has appointed Daniel Tangherlini, who headed the General Services Administration under former President Barack Obama, to replace Ron Bloom, the current USPS board chairman.

Bloom is a Democrat who had expressed a desire to remain on the board, but Biden chose not to appoint him for a second term. The move came after Bloom backed DeJoy amid his cost-cutting measures, according to two people close to the Postal Service management.

The partisan makeup of the USPS board may not change too much after Biden’s appointments; one of his pending candidates, Derek Kan, was a Republican candidate. The board cannot have more than five of its nine White House-appointed governors from the same political party.

The White House declined to comment on Biden’s intentions and instead highlighted the remarks of White House press secretary Jen Psaki during a November press briefing, in which it noted that the president did not have the power to fire the Postmaster General. However, Psaki stressed that the White House was concerned about DeJoy’s leadership.

The postal reform legislation that Comer and Maloney worked on would ensure that the USPS is no longer required to pre-fund its retiree health benefits. It would also allow employees in eligible positions to enroll in Medicare. In addition, the legislation would require the Postal Service to maintain its standard of mail delivery at least six days a week – a response to concerns of some lawmakers over service cuts.

The usually low-profile USPS board of directors has jurisdiction over the agency’s policies, spending, and long-term planning, and came under scrutiny shortly before the election of 2020, when the then governors – all appointed by Trump – chose DeJoy, one of Trump’s top donors, to lead the Postal Service. Democrats then accused DeJoy of attempting to sabotage postal voting in the election, which a USPS watchdog is investigating.

Ronnie Stutts, president of the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, said Democrats seemed unable to separate their dissatisfaction with DeJoy from the postal reform legislation.

“We just have to keep the two separate. We need postal reform to be self-sustaining, ”Stutts said of lawmakers trying to tie DeJoy’s layoff to postal reform. “It’s all about politics, it’s all about politics. That’s where this thing happened.

DeJoy supported the reform bill during February testimony before the House Oversight Committee and also decided to implement a pilot postal banking program, a long-standing goal of progressives. For Comer, this commitment means he’s doing the long-needed work at the USPS.

“We don’t have much interest in giving more money to the postal service without seeing the necessary reform. So, is Joe Biden going to set up another incompetent bureaucrat or is he going to try to set up someone who is actually going to implement [reform]? “asked Comer.

Asked about Comer’s remarks last week, Maloney was caught off guard.

“I’ve never heard of it,” said Maloney. “I just left him at a committee meeting. He didn’t mention it – did he mention it to you? “

Biparty legislation was introduced to the Senate by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) And Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) earlier this year, and it now has more than two dozen bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate. The bill, however, has yet to make headway through the Senate panel. The House oversight committee put forward its version of the bill in July.

David Partenheimer, a spokesperson for the USPS, stressed that postal reform legislation was an integral part of the agency’s stimulus plan. He added that existing year-end legislative priorities appeared to be the “main obstacle preventing his consideration of the floor in the short term.”

“” This is the most important action Congress could take to influence the financial viability of the Postal Service, and as currently drafted, the reform bill has gained the most bipartisan co-sponsorship to date for postal reform, “Partenheimer said in a statement.” We look forward to this bill moving home and the Senate as soon as possible in 2021 or early 2022. “

When asked to comment, a Senate Democratic aide on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee speaking on condition of anonymity defended the bill: “We plan to continue to work productively to adopt it. We believe Democrats are united. “

The office of Portman, the top Republican on the committee with jurisdiction over the USPS, declined to comment.

Postal legislation would come at a difficult time for the quasi-government agency. In a March report, the Postal Service said it had lost $ 87 billion over the past 14 years and announced a plan to reverse projected losses of $ 160 billion over the next 10 years. This ten-year plan included, among other initiatives, legislative corrections such as the elimination of the pre-financing requirement.

The overhaul plan also includes the support of the main postal unions, which have pushed for the removal of the pre-financing requirement.

“The best thing Congress can do for the United States Postal Service and the people it serves is to introduce this bill,” said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Letter Carriers Association.

Martin E. Berry