USPS CRISIS: DeJoy agrees to testify before House panel, James hits Trump for ‘authoritarian power grab’

United States Postal Service (USPS) mailboxes are seen stored outside a USPS post office facility in the Bronx New York
United States Postal Service (USPS) mailboxes are seen stored outside a USPS post office facility in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The official at the heart of the ongoing crisis at the United State Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has voluntarily agreed to testify before a House committee chaired by New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

The legislator, who heads the House Oversight Committee, said Monday that DeJoy would appear before the panel on Aug. 24 to speak “about the sweeping operational and organizational changes he has been making to the Postal Service.”

Amid reports that the USPS had slowed operations to a crawl nationwide and announced concerns that mailed ballots would not be delivered in time for the November presidential election, Maloney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a 10-page letter to DeJoy outlining concerns about the situation. They also requested that he and other USPS officials appear before the oversight panel.

There have also been reports of USPS mailboxes being padlocked or removed from street corners nationwide, and mail sorting machines being removed from various USPS facilities. These actions came after President Trump, while appearing on Fox News, said he would oppose federal aid for the USPS as the slowdown would also slow the delivery and processing of mailed ballots.

In recent days, Trump made apparent attempts to walk that comment back, saying he would concede to “some funding” for the cash-strapped, yet Constitutionally-required public service. Monday morning, he seemed to claim his earlier remarks about slowing the balloting process down were in jest.

House Democrats, however, are taking Trump’s earlier statements seriously. Maloney noted that the committee has also asked DeJoy to produce information by this Friday, Aug. 21, answering various questions and concerns outlined in the 10-page letter.

“I also look forward to receiving his production of documents other information by this Friday in response to the detailed request I made last week with Speaker Pelosi, [Senate Minority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer, [California Congresswoman Zoe] Lofgren, and Senate Ranking Members [Doug] Peters and [Amy] Klobuchar,” Maloney said in a statement Monday. “The American people want their mail, medicines, and mail-in ballots delivered in a timely way, and they certainly do not want drastic changes and delays in the midst of a global pandemic just months before the election.”

Robert M. Duncan, who chairs the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, also agreed to appear with DeJoy at the Aug. 24 hearing. 

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James condemned what she called Trump’s “actions to interfere” with the USPS operations as “an attempt at an authoritarian power grab in an effort to hold on to power, plain and simple.”

“I, along with numerous other state attorneys general from around the nation, are now swiftly examining every legal option to protect the postal service and Americans’ right to vote absentee,” James said in a statement. “While the president works to disenfranchise voters, we will fight to protect our democracy and ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November.”