WASHINGTON – Democrats slammed the U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during hours of hearings that became contentious at times Monday.
“After 240 years of patriotic service, how can one person screw this up in just a few weeks?” Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. asked. “I understand you bring private sector expertise. I guess we couldn’t find a government worker who could screw it up this fast. It would take them a while.”
DeJoy said that he, like the president, would be voting by mail this year and that he is not trying to sabotage the election.
House Democrats hammered DeJoy, accusing him of recklessly slowing down the mail of millions of Americans without a good explanation.
“What leader would think that even the possibility of slowing down mail in a time such as this this is a good idea?” asked Rep Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) questioned DeJoy about recent cuts to overtime, truck routes and mail sorting machines, saying “refrigerated insulin is reportedly sitting in sorting facilities.”
At one point, DeJoy blamed previous leadership and suggested that the pandemic and protests for racial justice made matters worse: “It has had an impact on our employee availability.”
Democrats rejected DeJoy’s claim that he wasn’t responsible for recent mail delays, citing information from an unnamed whistleblower showing a drop in mail deliveries shortly after DeJoy got the job.
DeJoy acknowledged at a Senate hearing last week that there has been a “dip” in service, but disputed reports of widespread problems.
Republican House members supported DeJoy during the hearing Monday and questioned Democrats’ motives.
“This is about these guys wanting chaos and confusion, because I think they know this, I think they know that on election night President Trump’s going to win,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said. “They know that on Election Day, the vote count on Election Day, President Trump’s going to win, and they want to keep counting — six weeks, four weeks, Iowa Caucus … that’s what they want.”
DeJoy said he’s confident that the post office can handle the surge in mail leading up to the election.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans are expected to avoid polling places and try to cast their ballots by mail.
DeJoy, a wealthy Republican donor, owned a logistics business that was a longtime Postal Service contractor, and he has significant financial stakes in companies that do business or compete with the agency. DeJoy said Monday he is in “full compliance” with ethics rules and said his actions as postmaster were just “a plan to run trucks on time.”
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., fired off a round of quick, seemingly basic questions — How much to does it cost to mail a postcard? And how many people voted by mail in the last election? — only to find DeJoy did not know the answers.
“I’m concerned about your understanding of this agency,” she told DeJoy.
DeJoy said many of the operational changes, such as removal of sorting machines, were underway before he arrived. Porter and other Democrats pressed him on who ordered the changes.
DeJoy did not provide an answer.
Porter and another Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., also raised questions about DeJoy’s financial interests. He said he had no stakes in online giant Amazon, a major Postal Service customer and a frequent target of criticism from Trump.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called the House bill approved Saturday a “political statement” and stressed that Trump would consider additional money only as part of a broader coronavirus relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate is eyeing $10 billion for the Postal Service in a new COVID-19 relief package, but won’t pass stand-alone legislation for the post office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.