USPS board of governors nominees appear before Senate committee
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
President Joe Biden’s three nominees to the United States Postal Service’s board of governors have cleared their first congressional hurdle without giving any indication they are likely to press for the ouster of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
The nominees are Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union; Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; and Amber McReynolds, a former Denver, Colo., elections official.
At their April 22 confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, all three would-be governors said no one in the administration had asked or pressured them about DeJoy’s controversial tenure.
A former logistics executive, DeJoy was placed in charge of the Postal Service in mid-June 2020 by a unanimous vote of postal governors appointed by President Donald Trump.
DeJoy’s brief term as the nation’s postal chief has been marked by a sharp decline in mail delivery times, which has angered many Congressional Democrats.
Some had been pressing Biden to fill three vacant seats on the postal board in hopes of removing DeJoy, who has been a major Republican Party donor.
The two-hour confirmation hearing, however, produced no evidence that the three new governors were part of an anti-DeJoy effort.
Their nominations appeared likely to be approved by the committee and forwarded to the full Senate for confirmation.
Several Republicans raised questions about the nominees’ support for DeJoy.
Sen. Robert Portman, R-Ohio, noted at the outset that all three nominees had given him assurances they had made no commitment to replace DeJoy.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., later pressed the issue, praising DeJoy.
“The postmaster general is very unfairly criticized in the run-up to the [presidential] elections,” Johnson said, citing complaints from Democrats that DeJoy limited the effectiveness of mail-in voting in the Nov. 3, 2020, elections.
Johnson also got the three nominees to commit to efforts to make the USPS self-sufficient, even though he acknowledged that the agency is receiving more taxpayer support because of losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hajjar repeatedly described the recent drop in mail delivery times as “unacceptable.”
Stroman cautioned that the turnover rate of the Postal Service’s noncareer workers is “too high” and may be part of the recent problems.
McReynolds promised to pay close attention to mail service to rural residents.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., cautioned the three nominees that the USPS needs to make a stronger commitment to ordering more electric-powered delivery trucks than DeJoy is planning to order.
Portman also told the prospective governors that the USPS must make a better effort to comply with legislation he sponsored that calls for checking incoming parcels for illicit drugs.
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