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Biden Nominees Poised To Take Control Of Postal Service, Oust DeJoy

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A Senate committee voted in favor of President Joe Biden's three nominees for governing board overseeing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

According to the Associated Press, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved the president's three nominees: "Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, who leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union."

The vote comes as lawmakers train their focus on restoring public confidence and trust in the U.S. Postal Service. Since last year, the postal service has undergone a number of drastic changes under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a known supporter of President Donald Trump and a major donor for the Republican Party.

In a matter of months, DeJoy implemented a number of overhauls that subsequently led to weeks-long delays in mail processing and transit. If Biden's nominees are approved, they would give Democrats a majority on the board. Amid the announcement of Biden's nominees, Democratic lawmakers are pushing back against the ten-year strategy introduced last month by DeJoy and board Chairman Ron Bloom.

While DeJoy and Bloom insist their plan would save the postal service from substantial losses of approximately $160 billion loss over course of the next decade, Democrats strongly disagree.

The sweeping plan would relax the current first-class letter delivery standard of one to three days to a benchmark of one to five days for mail going to the farthest reaches of the postal network. Postal leaders have said 70% of mail would still be delivered within three days. The plan also includes investments in a new fleet of delivery vehicles and a proposal to consolidate underused post offices and hints at a potential postage rate increase.

The controversial strategy has led to renewed calls for DeJoy's resignation. Last summer, those calls began when DeJoy's drastic policy changes led to slowed mail in the midst of the election. As a staggering number of American voters across the country prepared to vote by mail, there were widespread concerns about ballots being received and processed in a timely fashion.

Once Biden's nominees are confirmed by the full Senate, they can officially take their positions.

Democrats Introduce DEJOY Act To Thwart Postal Service Sabotage

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Postmaster Louis DeJoy has made a very powerful enemy: the U.S. Congress. Well, the Democrats who control the House, anyway. A group of House Democrats has introduced the "Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act." Yes, the DEJOY Act, which is a crime against legislative nomenclature. But the lawmakers are serious, intent on blocking DeJoy from implementing the service changes he intends, including slowing delivery of first-class mail to as long as five days.

"This is the best way to kill your business," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Illinois Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, said. "To basically say to your customers, 'We're not going to meet your expectations. You're going to meet our service realities, regardless of what ends up happening.'" Krishnamoorthi told The Washington Post that this "particular change, going from 100 percent of first-class mail being delivered one to three days to only 70 percent, would be a nonstarter, in my opinion, with the American people."

DeJoy's response to Congress in a hearing before he released his plan doomed the reception of it. While DeJoy wasn't quite as obnoxious and insulting to members as in previous outings, he still angered many of them. DeJoy actually said "Does it make a difference if it's an extra day to get a letter?" as if people weren't relying on the mail to get their prescriptions, to pay their bills, to receive checks. Then he had the chutzpah to say, "I would give myself an 'A' for bringing strategy and the planning and effort to here."

It's not just Congress that is set against DeJoy. Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro threatened legal action if DeJoy's changes "illegally come at the expense of those who rely on the mail for everything from paychecks to medications." The Postal Service, he reminds us, is a public service and "Changes to its universal service guarantee must go through a process that is designed to protect the public interest." Shapiro's office told the Post that "it was encouraged that DeJoy recognizes the legal obligations to secure limited regulatory approvals, but said it remained concerned about timely mail delivery."

DeJoy wants to slash service, cut USPS post office hours, and increase postage costs for consumers, delivering worse service for higher cost in his attempt to save $160 billion over 10 years. That's along with legislation from Congress that is likely to pass that will repeal the 2006 law forcing the USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. It's the only agency that Congress has ever required to do that, a decision made when cooking the books to make the deficit look better.

The USPS is an off-budget entity—its operating expenses don't come out of the Treasury, but its payments into the federal health benefits system do, so this intergovernmental agency pumping funds in for retiree health benefits could be counted as revenue for the federal government. It was so much book-cooking but had real consequences in burdening the USPS. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has legislation that would both repeal the 2006 law and enroll future retirees in Medicare. They're now in the federal employees benefits plan, where all that pre-funding money has been going.

DeJoy's planned price hikes and service cuts are getting panned by consumer groups—including business groups that rely on the mail. There are lawsuits in the works to force a stop to the changes. "In the entire fifty-eight pages of the plan there does not appear to be any effort to retain mail volume," PostCom, a national postal commerce advocacy group, wrote. "Apart from price increases and service reductions, there is little about mail in the plan at all. That's inaction." Another group, the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said "the plan will drive mail volume down to levels not seen since before it reached 100 billion in 1980. […] If we mailers win our federal lawsuit, the plan is sunk."

DeJoy has to be stopped before he can implement these changes. He should have been gone before now—when his disqualifying conflicts of interestsurfaced. The fact that the USPS Board of Governors picked DeJoy—who was unqualified, had never worked in the Postal Service, and who got the job after making big donations to Trump's convention—without any vetting process means they have to go, too.

Biden should fire the board. The Senate should make confirming Biden's new board members a top priority. The Postal Service is too critical an institution to let this malfeasance continue.

Biden Urged To Oust DeJoy And Entire Postal Service Board

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Even though the 2020 election wasn't ruined by sabotage and we now have President Joe Biden, we still have a deeply broke and highly politicized U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Among all the other housecleaning Biden has to do, New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell isn't going to let him forget about it. The Democrat has written to Biden, urging him to "fire the entire Postal Board of Governors for their silence and complicity in trump and dejoy's [sic] attempts to subvert the election and destroy the Post Office."

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Postal Service Faces ‘Unprecedented’ Holiday Weekend Delays

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is currently inundated with "unprecedented volumes of mail" as Americans report package delays amid the Christmas holiday weekend.

According to the USPS website banner, the mail carrier is "experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19." The Hill reports that the staggering increase in package volume and the limited number of employees due to the pandemic has created a number of problems for the mail carrier.

On Dec. 14, USPS released a statement urging Americans to keep shipping deadlines in mind when placing time-sensitive as they braced for Dec. 14-21, which was described as the "busiest mailing and shipping week" of the year.

"This has been an extraordinary year of unprecedented challenges given the COVID-19 pandemic — and the Postal Service is expecting significant increases in the volume of mail and packages," the statement read. "Sunday delivery has been expanded in select high package volume locations, and the agency already delivers packages on Sundays in most major cities. Mail carriers will also deliver Priority Mail Express packages for an additional fee on Christmas Day in select locations."

However, prior to the release of that statement, many people had already reported substantial delays. While speaking to the Associated Press, Austin Race, of Grand Rapids, Mich., placed an order for his father's Christmas gift on Nov. 30. Despite having a 2-day shipping priority and placing the order long before the USPS deadline, his package was still delayed. In fact, as of Thursday, Dec. 24, the package still had not been delivered.

"I do understand the situation, but it's still kind of frustrating," Race said.

Others have faced package delivery challenges due to inaccurate notifications. A woman in Ann Arbor, Mich., told the publication that "Christmas ornaments she ordered Nov. 17 got stuck in Detroit, despite a Dec. 11 message from the postal service stating that it had already arrived at its destination in Columbus, Ohio."

"I was frustrated last week thinking, 'C'mon, get here,' but now I am just sort of laughing it off," she said.

The latest news about USPS comes just months after Trump-appointed postmaster general Louis DeJoy found himself at the center of controversy for incorporating unprecedented rollbacks that delayed the delivery of mail as the presidential election approached.

At the time, DeJoy was widely accused of making the changes to directly kneecap mail-in voting—an age-old voting method President Donald Trump had waged war against for several months. Although the House approved $25 billion in emergency funding back in August to reverse DeJoy's operational changes, it appears the damage had already been done.