Biden rejects postal board effort to save chairman
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
President Joe Biden rejected the efforts of the United States Postal Service’s board of governors to save its chairman, declaring he wants two new governors to help oversee the USPS.
He announced the nominees, Democrat Daniel Tangherlini and Republican Derek Kan, on Nov. 19.
If their nominations are approved by the Senate, it would give Biden’s five nominees control of a nine-member board that until now has stood behind Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, whose decisions to slow mail deliveries and raise stamp prices have made him a target of congressional Democrats.
In making the announcement, Biden did not mention the efforts of the current board to keep chairman Ron Bloom in office. But the president stressed his commitment “to strengthening and modernizing this critical public institution,” saying it must keep “serving the American people for decades to come.”
The Postal Service immediately issued a news release congratulating the two nominees and thanking Bloom and John Barger, both of whose terms on the board are expiring in December.
Democratic members of Congress expressed delight at the president’s action.
“I am tickled pink that two DeJoy enablers have been replaced and thank President Biden for his leadership,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., a sharp critic of the postmaster general.
“This action is a good thing for the Postal Service and, most importantly, a great thing for the American people,” said Connolly, who heads a House subcommittee that controls postal legislation.
Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, praised the selection of Tangherlini, saying his work as head of the General Services Administration “makes him well-suited to help get the Postal Service back on track.”
Maloney said that under DeJoy the agency “lost focus on its core mission — to serve the American people by delivering the mail on-time at an affordable rate.”
Biden’s announcement came the same day that House Democrats passed a key Biden measure that would give the financially struggling Postal Service $6 billion for purchase of a new fleet of electric-powered mail delivery vehicles.
Known as Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better bill, the legislation faces an uphill fight in the Senate where Republicans and some Democrats have attacked it as too costly and far-reaching.
The White House announcement ended the efforts of a postal board controlled by President Donald Trump appointees to retain Bloom in office for another year by re-electing him chairman on Nov. 10.
Bloom’s term had ended last year, but he was allowed to remain in office for another hold over year. A Democrat, Bloom was appointed by Trump.
In naming Bloom and Barger’s replacement, Biden followed the practice of most presidents by nominating both a Democrat and Republican to the board at the same time, a step designed to prevent either party from attempting to block the other’s nominee.
Both of Biden’s nominees have extensive experience in the federal government.
Tangherlini worked for the District of Columbia government, serving as deputy mayor. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget.
Kan served in the Trump administration as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and undersecretary of transportation for policy. He also worked on Capitol Hill as an advisor to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when McConnell was the majority leader.
By law the postal board consists of nine governors named by the president with no more than five of the same party.
As a result of repeated Senate protests, seats on the postal board had become vacant, allowing Trump to name a full board. That board selected DeJoy as postmaster general.
In congressional testimony, DeJoy made clear he intended to remain in office, even if Trump was defeated.
His blunt style, ethics issues and mail delays encountered in his first year put him at odds with Democrats and made him a controversial figure in Washington, D.C.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki echoed the Democrats’ concerns about DeJoy.
“We are, of course, deeply troubled, continue to be deeply troubled, as many Americans are, by the earlier reporting on Postmaster General DeJoy’s potential financial conflicts of interest and take serious issues with the job he’s doing running the Postal Service,” Psaki said.
“It’s up to the board to make a determination about leadership, but we have continued concerns about the postmaster general’s leadership.”
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