The once-formidable United States Postal Service is a shell of its former self. Every day, I hear from constituents seeking help with an increasingly familiar problem: Mail is arriving weeks or even months late, and sometimes not at all. But this is no accident. The USPS is being undermined by the same person entrusted with stewarding one of our nation’s most precious assets: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Every day, I hear from constituents seeking help with an increasingly familiar problem: mail is arriving weeks or even months late, and sometimes not at all.
DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor, was appointed by the board of governors of the Postal Service; the nine members of the board are appointed by the president. Just like former President Donald Trump, who slammed the post office and mail-in ballots during the 2020 election, DeJoy may have a personal interest in dismantling the Postal Service as we know it. For decades, he made millions as the chief executive of a prominent private logistics and shipping company that competed directly with USPS. In other words, weakening the USPS could strengthen private industry, and thus his own financial interests.
It certainly seems like he’s wasted no time weakening the service. Within weeks of becoming postmaster general, DeJoy took draconian steps to undermine basic USPS functions. By ordering letter carriers to start their routes before all mail had been sorted, trying to eliminate overtime for postal employees, and overseeing the destruction of mail-sorting machines, he all but guaranteed delays in delivering the mail, making it all but impossible for the USPS to meet the standard of service the American people have come to expect.
And now, despite widespread calls for DeJoy's resignation, his assault on the Postal Service appears to be ongoing. In March, he unveiled a 10-year reorganization plan for the USPS that even he admits would make delivery times for first-class mail longer, reduce the hours for some post offices and increase the cost of sending mail.
The USPS is a vital public service. It keeps our vast, diverse nation connected. It is how millions of people receive medication, pay their bills and stay in touch with loved ones around the country. Amid the Covid-19 crisis, the USPS has been essential to folks unable to leave their homes to get what they need.
But perhaps most important, the USPS sustains our democracy.
Nearly half of all voters in this November’s election cast their vote by mail. Millions more received information about where to vote, how to vote and who was on their ballot in the mail. And every day, people across America rely on the Postal Service to pay their taxes, send official documents and stay up to date on what’s happening in their communities.
As a candidate for federal office last year, I understood all too clearly that DeJoy’s attack on our Postal Service was an attack on our free and fair elections. So, this past August, I filed a lawsuit along with 15 other candidates in federal court against Trump and DeJoy to stop their efforts to sabotage the USPS just months before the 2020 presidential election. We won a nationwide injunction to stop DeJoy then, but it is clear his resolve to dismantle the Postal Service from the inside has not waned.
DeJoy initiated many of his deepest cuts when it became clear that Trump’s re-election could hinge on suppressing mail-in votes. Those cuts are deepening now that Republicans have lost the House, Senate and presidency. As Republican state legislatures seek to roll back vote-by-mail in Georgia, Arizona and across our country, DeJoy and his fellow plutocrats may suspect that the road back to power will be paved with undelivered ballots.
So as we work to strengthen democracy in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, we must not forget to rescue the USPS. That begins with removing DeJoy.
Unfortunately, President Joe Biden cannot do this alone. The postmaster general can only be removed by a majority vote of the board of governors. Thankfully, Biden has already taken an important first step by nominating three people to the USPS board: former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman; former general counsel of American Postal Workers Union Anton Hajjar; and Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute. Now, the Senate must act to confirm Biden’s nominees so that the board of governors can stop DeJoy once and for all.
As a candidate for Congress, I saw firsthand the damage Louis DeJoy is capable of causing. We were able to stop him once, but unless we act now, there are no guarantees we will be able to again.