DeJoy Faces Lawmakers' Questions About Post Office Delays Louis DeJoy testified about shortfalls at the U.S. Postal Service. Despite calls for his resignation, DeJoy said he plans to follow through on an overhaul plan. "Get used to me," he said.
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Under Pressure, Postmaster General Calls For Changes To Mail Delivery

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Under Pressure, Postmaster General Calls For Changes To Mail Delivery

Under Pressure, Postmaster General Calls For Changes To Mail Delivery

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/970504457/971105620" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

On-time mail delivery rates have fallen below the post office's own standards lately. And today, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faced tough questions from lawmakers about that. Soon after DeJoy finished his testimony, the Biden administration announced three nominees to fill vacancies on the Postal Service Board of Governors. That's the body that hires and fires postmasters general. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: DeJoy was apologetic and at times combative in his testimony before members of the House Oversight Committee. He said that the status quo was acceptable to no one.

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LOUIS DEJOY: Too many Americans were left waiting for weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages. This is unacceptable, and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays.

NAYLOR: Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were critical of the mail delays, citing complaints from constituents over bills arriving late, leading to late payments and late fees. Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs of Ohio said he's given up on the postal service.

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BOB GIBBS: Personally, I'm doing everything I can. I won't send payments through the mail anymore. That's how much confidence I've lost in the system.

NAYLOR: DeJoy is in the midst of developing a new 10-year strategic plan for the postal service. In an exchange with Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, DeJoy acknowledged the plan may lead to slower deliveries of some first-class mail beyond a local area.

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DEJOY: There will be two-day mail class in our plan. Some percentage of that, where the reach is right now, may change.

RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: So you're - what you're saying is that for local mail, first-class...

DEJOY: Well, you need to define local.

NAYLOR: Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts said DeJoy's plan didn't sound like it would work.

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STEPHEN LYNCH: If the business plan for the post office is to deliver an inferior product, and we're in competition with FedEx and UPS and Amazon, that spells trouble. That leads me to believe that we would be going into a downward spiral. The solution can't be to not deliver the mail.

DEJOY: I would suggest that we are on a death spiral. We cannot - even with this legislation, we cannot continue to lose money.

NAYLOR: The legislation DeJoy referred to would end the Postal Service's unique requirement imposed by Congress to prefund its future retirees' health care, a requirement that has led to some $80 billion in red ink for the Postal Service. Congress is considering bipartisan legislation to allow postal retirees to qualify for Medicare. And he defended his proposed changes to delivery times.

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DEJOY: So that the standards have not been met. The three- to five-day standards have been running at 80% for years. It's not reliable. You could sit here and think that I'm bringing all this damage to the Postal Service, but as I said earlier, the place was operationally faulty because of lack of investment and lack of ability to move forward, which is what we're trying to do.

NAYLOR: Democrats have been critical of DeJoy, who before becoming postmaster general, gave millions to Republicans, including former President Donald Trump. Many Democrats would like to see him replaced, but he made clear to Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper he's not going anywhere.

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JIM COOPER: How much longer are you planning to stay?

DEJOY: A long time - get used to me.

NAYLOR: It's up to the Postal Board of Governors to appoint the postmaster general. The Biden administration today announced three nominees to fill vacancies on the board. They are Ron Stroman, who was the highest-ranking Black official at the post office before resigning last year; Amber McReynolds, who heads the National Vote At Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, a former postal union official. If confirmed, the nominees will give the board a Democratic majority, which could move to replace DeJoy.

Brian Naylor, NPR News.

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