WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — In much of the nation, Americans have experienced months of erratic mail service, which stretched on during the pandemic, election and holidays.
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Finally, this week, progress at your local post office might be delivered.
The United States Postal Service Board of Governors meets Tuesday and could make its own changes. Or change could be sent from the White House to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
New management, greater demand, slower service and the pandemic all combined to make the USPS the subject of a political debate that is still going on.
“The post office for many years has been run in a fashion that hasn’t been great, great workers and everything, but old equipment, very old equipment. And I don’t think the post office is prepared for a thing like this,” said former President Donald Trump, speaking on mail-in voting back in 2020.
Then-President Trump repeatedly argued during the campaign that the Postal Service was a joke and that mail-in ballots were ripe for corruption by partisans wanting to cheat him out of victory at the polls.
“Mail-in ballots, other than absentee which is a great thing, but mail-in ballots are very dangerous for our country,” he claimed.
But other factors added up to not only a loss of confidence but a lessening of capability.
Those mail-in ballots were increasingly in use because of the electorate’s coronavirus concerns. They inundated the nation’s 630,000 postal workers during all of the primary and general election campaigns to an unprecedented degree.
Online shopping increased heavily for the same reason.
The Associated Press reported that by Christmas, more than a third of First Class Mail was delivered late.
Trump’s endorsement of Republican fundraiser Louis DeJoy as the new Postmaster General led to significant changes in service. DeJoy got the job in May, just as the political campaigns shifted into high gear.
Citing costs, he reduced overtime, banned late and extra mail deliveries. Last fall, though he denied ordering it, hundreds of badly needed mail sorting machines and collection boxes were taken out of circulation — the kind of moves that smelled like dirty tricks to Democrats such as Congressman Ro Khanna of California.
Rep. Khanna: What is the harm in just putting those machines back until Election Day, just for the peace of mind for the confidence for the American people?
DeJoy: Because they are not needed. That’s why.
Rep. Khanna: But if it will restore people’s faith in a democracy and avoid a polarized election I would think.
DeJoy: Get me the billion and I’ll put the machines.
Rep. Khanna: OK, well, that’s a commitment, we’ll find a way to get you the money.
Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union, said DeJoy was doing what Mr. Trump wanted done.
“We sounded the alarm when the new Postmaster General implemented policies that delayed the mail and threatened the integrity of the elections. Thanks to our efforts, management temporarily halted their mail delaying policies, and a record 65 million people entrusted postal workers with their ballots. And yes, we delivered. We helped elect a new president who will no longer demonize postal workers and our unions,” Dimondstein said.
Now, President Joe Biden is being pressed to improve the post office and at least diminish DeJoy’s influence by making some new appointments to the USPS Board of Governors which meets this week for the first time since November’s election.
DeJoy and the current board wrote in USA Today this month that they are working on a comprehensive 10-year plan which they say “will significantly improve service and enable the organization to compete more effectively for customers while achieving our congressionally mandated goal of long-term financial sustainability.”
By law, the Postmaster General is selected by that board of governors and only the board can remove him. There are four Republicans on that board, plus two Democrats, but also three vacancies. That means President Biden could conceivably have five Democrats on the board — which would be a majority — and enough to show Louis DeJoy the door if they wanted to.