Sen. Johnson Seeks To Upstage House Hearings On Postal Service

Ron Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson

Photo by Gage Skidmore/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Senate Republicans are getting in on the "protect the Postal Service" game, but their latest move definitely calls into question their intentions in doing so. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing for Friday with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy before the House votes on the Postal Service on Saturday and grills DeJoy on Monday. What Johnson wants him to testify about, according to Washington Post sources, is the Postal Service's "vote-by-mail financial requirements."

More to the point, Johnson "is expected to press DeJoy on whether the Postal Service truly needs the $25 billion in emergency funding that the House has pushed." Guess what answer Johnson is trying to get, the day before House Democrats are scheduled to vote on a bill that includes $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service as well as forcing resumption of services to their pre-coronavirus levels, including restoring mailboxes and sorting machines. Johnson's entire purpose appears to be to set up the House Democrats by "proving" that the Postal Service doesn't need that money.

The White House says now that they would be willing to go as far as $10 billion for the service, and it has $15 billion in cash on hand, the Postal Service has said. There's another $10 billion, with strings attached, that it can obtain in a Treasury loan. So boom, Johnson will say, there's $35 billion! What's the problem? Johnson has unlikely thought ahead to the fact that there will also be Democrats asking questions, and that the inevitable follow-up question is why, then, is DeJoy saying that all of these cuts he's making—weeks before a critical election in which the pandemic will force many to vote-by-mail—are because the Postal Service doesn't have money?

The other part that Johnson might not have entirely thought out is that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is on his committee, and Sen. Harris is a very good interrogator. Since DeJoy is going to be sitting in the hot seat, he's going to be open to questions about exactly how he got this job considering he has absolutely zero professional experience with the Postal Service and since he has given more than $2 million to the Trump campaign and other Republicans since 2016.

The ranking member of the committee, Sen. Gary Peters from Michigan, pushed for this hearing to have DeJoy "answer urgent questions about @USPS postal delivery delays harming Michiganders & Americans." In a statement over the weekend, Peters said: "It is imperative that Mr. DeJoy publicly and comprehensively testify about changes and planned changes taking place at the U.S. Postal Service, since the Postal Service is a public institution that both serves and belongs to every person in our nation." Democrats aren't likely to be the only members of the committee who have pointed questions about these services changes.

Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, and Steve Daines of Montana—all facing stiff reelection challenges this cycle—along with Sen. Roy Blunt have all spoken out about the delays. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman sent his own letter to DeJoy, "calling on the @USPS to ensure the timely & accurate delivery of election-related materials in #Ohio." Portman is also on the committee.

Thus, Johnson's plan to have a "nothing to see here" hearing might just not work out so well for him. It will just be a warm up for what DeJoy is facing Monday, when House Democrats like Rep. Katie Porter are sharpening their questions.


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