House to Subpoena Postmaster General Over Mail Delays

House to Subpoena Postmaster General Over Mail Delays
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns at the Postal Service ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 24, 2020. (Tom Williams/AFP)

WASHINGTON—The House Oversight Committee intends to subpoena Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for documents on disruptions in mail delivery operations that are now central to questions over the agency’s ability to handle the onslaught of mail-in ballots expected for the November election.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) the committee chair, sent a memo Monday saying DeJoy blew past last week’s deadline to fully respond to the committee’s request for more information. He has not provided any new materials, she said.

“It is clear that a subpoena has become necessary to further the Committee’s investigation and help inform potential legislative actions,” she said.

Democrats are aggressively pursuing oversight of postal operations and are leading an unprecedented push to have voters cast their ballots by mail is underway across the nation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have warned about the negative effects of the push, pointing to the botched Democratic primary election in New York City.

NTD Photo
Pam Fleming and fellow workers stuff ballots and instructions into mail-in envelopes at the Lancaster County Election Committee offices in Lincoln, Neb., on April 14, 2020.(Nati Harnik/AP Photo)

DeJoy, who was tapped to lead the agency in June, said the organizational changes he’s made are aimed at making the independent, executive branch agency more efficient.

Communities across the nation complained about widespread disruptions in postal operations this summer as blue mailboxes and sorting equipment were removed and employees said changes in trucking operations and overtime hours left mail on the loading docks, undelivered.

The committee produced internal postal service data showing widespread summer service disruptions.

Postal Service spokeswoman Kimberly Frum previously told The Epoch Times that, for decades, the installation and removal of mail boxes has been based on mail volume received in the boxes.

“It is a fluid process and figures can vary from day-to-day. Historically, mail boxes have been removed for lack of use and installed in growth areas,” she said, adding later: “When a collection box consistently receives very small amounts of mail for months on end, it costs the Postal Service money in fuel and workhours for letter carriers to drive to the mailbox and collect the mail. Removing the box is simply good business sense in that respect.”

The service has in recent years placed a greater emphasis on relocating boxes that aren’t used much to high-traffic areas such as shopping centers and grocery stores.

USPS mail box
A United States Postal Service (USPS) mail box stands in the Manhattan, N.Y., on Aug. 5, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

DeJoy, who testified before the panel earlier this month, reiterated in a letter on Aug. 28 that the changes he was initiating are now being suspended “until after the election is concluded.”

The committee is seeking documents about the changes, including the removal of sorting equipment and changes to overtime rules, which could be impeding mail delivery. The panel also wants information about how DeJoy, a successful businessman and the first postmaster general who was not a career USPS employee, was selected for the job, as well as any previously “undisclosed communication between Mr. DeJoy and the Trump campaign.” DeJoy is a supporter of the president.

DeJoy in his Friday letter to the panel said the postal leadership team has expanded an Election Mail task force to work with local election officials in support of the November election to ensure ballots are delivered “securely and on time.”

DeJoy also said his staff was working with the committee to provide the materials being requested.
Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the panel’s Government Operations Subcommittee, said “Mr. DeJoy’s testimony before our committee has left us with more questions than answers.”

Connolly added, “Congress must assert itself. The public demands it. Today’s action is a necessary step in our efforts to hold the Trump administration accountable for its deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service, and to restore confidence in this revered American institution.”

By Lisa Mascaro

Zachary Stieber and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report

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