Postmaster Apologizes for Mail Delays, Defends USPS Changes

Postmaster Apologizes for Mail Delays, Defends USPS Changes
U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy departs following a hearing in Washington on Feb. 24, 2021. (Al Drago/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized on Feb. 24 for the mail delays that Americans across the nation have seen dating back to last year, while defending changes that were made to the U.S. Postal Service under his watch.

DeJoy told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in Washington that the service "fell far short of meeting our service targets" during the holiday season.

"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," he said, adding that officials would "strive to do better in our service to the American people and we will do better."

Americans saw delays of days or even weeks throughout the Christmas season, as the country saw what officials described as "a historic record of holiday volume." Struggles with staffing due to COVID-19 were a contributing factor.

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) blamed the delays on changes DeJoy made to the service after taking the top post.

DeJoy said his focus has been on making the service financially sustainable since Congress has repeatedly been forced to infuse billions in funding to the beleaguered independent agency, which falls under the Executive Branch of the government.

"While our performance during the election was tremendous, the service performance issues that we otherwise experienced during much of the year demonstrate why we must make fundamental changes to provide our customers with the service they expect and deserve," he said, calling the status quo unacceptable and requesting Congress intervene to help assist with reform.

The changes ordered by DeJoy, including reducing hours, were rolled back in October 2020 in the settlement of a lawsuit.

Ron Bloom, a Democratic member of the post office's Board of Governors, told lawmakers that changes are needed to "address the systemic issues plaguing" the current model of the service, noting that it isn't self-subsistent. The service is projected to lose $160 billion over the next 10 years if nothing changes.

Maloney circulated draft legislation last week that she said would address some of the most important factors driving up costs of the service, since it's facing "a dire financial situation."

A United States Postal Service mail carrier delivers mail in El Paso, Texas, on April 30, 2020. (Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)
A United States Postal Service mail carrier delivers mail in El Paso, Texas, on April 30, 2020. (Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)

DeJoy, a donor to former President Donald Trump, was selected by the Postal Service's board.

Asked how long he plans to stay as postmaster general, DeJoy told lawmakers, "A long time."

"Get used to me," he said.

But President Joe Biden on Feb. 24 announced three nominations to the board: former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman, Amber McReynolds of the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute, and Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union.

Democrats praised the nominations, including Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who had called on Biden to fire every member of the board.

"I am gratified that we have a President in office who gets what is at stake in saving our Post Office and is acting with urgency. This is an impressive group of diverse nominees selected by President Biden who will be well-suited to the work of saving our Post Office," he said in a statement.

The board currently comprises six Trump appointees, four of whom are Republicans. Three seats are vacant.

If Biden's nominations are approved, the board would have a Democrat majority, enabling the removal of DeJoy.