Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday, days before a slate of congressional hearings, that he will postpone the USPS overhaul until after the November election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
He said that, for now, approval of overtime hours for postal workers will continue “as needed,” and that mail processing equipment will be untouched and centers left open.
“In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand,” he said.
The announcement comes as DeJoy was staring down the barrel of back-to-back hearings before outraged Democrats, Friday in the Senate and Monday in the House. It also comes on the heels of reporting that multiple states were poised to sue DeJoy for the restructuring, arguing that it would threaten their ability to hold “free and fair elections.”
DeJoy, a Republican mega-donor and ally of the President’s who started the job in June, laid out a comprehensive plan that would cut employees’ hours and remove processing machines, among other changes. Then at the end of July and reported late last week, the USPS sent letters to 46 states and Washington D.C. warning them that it may be unable to turn ballots around fast enough for them to be counted.
The warning came as the USPS was already facing critical financial shortages, and months before a national election dependent on voting by mail given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democrats, and some Republicans, quickly raised the alarm, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recalled her members back to Washington to vote on funding for the USPS on Saturday. DeJoy was called to testify before Congress, and a slew of Democrats requested documents from him related to the agency changes.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), ranking member on a key Senate committee, called the overhaul a malicious attempt to cast doubt on the election.
“I called DeJoy three times and he didn’t even answer,” Schumer said on a press call. “Only when I said we’re not gonna keep negotiating with Mnuchin and Meadows did DeJoy come before us. It was clear to us in the room that DeJoy was intent on dismantling the postal service brick by brick.”
“So far, he has not been forthcoming,” added Peters. “It has been difficult to get him to answer questions.”
Read DeJoy’s full statement here.