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Postal Service "fully capable" of delivering election mail on time, postmaster general says

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DeJoy "highly confident" mail ballots will be counted
DeJoy "highly confident" mail ballots will be... 01:26

Washington — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy assured Congress Friday that the U.S. Postal Service will be able to process the nation's mail-in ballots in November.

"As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee, and the American public, that the Postal Service is fully capable of delivering the nation's election mail securely and on time," DeJoy said.

DeJoy, who has been at the center of controversy over cost-cutting changes to the Postal Service that led to concerns about the ability to handle mail-in ballots for the November election, testified Friday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The major Republican donor and close ally of President Trump appeared before the Republican-led panel to answer questions about the mail agency's finances and operations during the coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated the Postal Service's fiscal woes, and the upcoming general election.

After he was installed as the postmaster general in June he implemented a series of operational changes designed to save the struggling Postal Service money, curtailing overtime and prohibiting postal workers from making extra trips for late-arriving mail. Under his oversight of the agency, there have also been reports of blue mail collection boxes being removed and a reduction in large mail-sorting machines.

The shifts led to a slowdown in mail delivery.

DeJoy said Friday he is "extremely highly confident" the Postal Service will be able to ensure that mailed ballots sent seven days before Election Day will be processed and counted. "We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day," he vowed. 

He also expressed support for mail-in voting, telling senators, "I think the American public should be able to vote by mail, and the Postal Service will support it." 

Postmaster general supports voting by mail 04:31

That said, in response to questions about letters sent by the Postal Service to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that mail-in ballots may not be processed in time to be counted, DeJoy said the problem was with state deadlines for sending election mail. He indicated some deadlines are too close to Election Day and encouraged Americans to vote early.

"I have never spoken to the president about the postal service," DeJoy said. He also said he never spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about changes to service.

 

DeJoy confirms that post-election he plans price hikes that will affect cost of mailing ballots

Postmaster general says changes will stay 08:21

After a brief struggle with technical issues that resulted in some profanity over a hot mic, Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, questioned DeJoy about a Washington Post report published Thursday that said he planned major changes to the Postal Service for after the election that would raise package rates, charge more for service in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and require first-class postage for ballots.

Carper asked DeJoy, "Yes or no: Are you considering the dramatic service changes which I just outlined, which we just learned about in the last 48 hours?"

"We're considering dramatic changes to improve service to the American people," DeJoy responded. "Yes."

 

DeJoy "highly confident" mail-in ballots sent 7 days before election will be counted

DeJoy expressed confidence that mail-in ballots sent in seven days before Election Day will be properly processed and counted.

"Extremely highly confident," DeJoy responded when asked by Senator Mitt Romney if he was confident in that assessment. "We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day."

Romney also noted that while DeJoy has donated to Mr. Trump, he has also contributed to Romney's campaign.

"Some people would say that you have contributed to both sides," Romney joked. Mr. Trump has frequently criticized Romney, the only Senate Republican to vote to convict the president on an article of impeachment in February. 

By Grace Segers
 

DeJoy on why he believes he was chosen as postmaster general

DeJoy, who was appointed to the position of postmaster general in June, said he believes he was chosen because of his business acumen and his "commitment to public service." DeJoy was previously a prominent North Carolina businessman.

"I have a plan for the success of the Postal Service," DeJoy said, explaining that he viewed the Postal Service as a business that needs to be transformed.

On Thursday, two House lawmakers sent a letter to a member of the USPS Board of Governors saying they believed DeJoy may have been chosen with political considerations in mind. DeJoy has donated to Republican causes.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congresswoman Katie Porter wrote that the former vice chairman of the Board of Governors, David Williams, had raised concerns about the process that culminated in DeJoy's selection. Williams resigned as vice chairman in April, shortly before DeJoy was appointed, and cited DeJoy's selection as one of his reasons for stepping down. 

By Grace Segers
 

DeJoy says he supports voting by mail

In response to questioning by GOP Senator Rob Portman, DeJoy said he supports voting by mail. He added that he himself has voted by mail a number of times.

"I think the American public should be able to vote by mail, and the Postal Service will support it," DeJoy said. 

Mr. Trump has repeatedly slammed voting by mail and claimed, without basis, that voting by mail could lead to voter fraud.

DeJoy also remarked on letters sent by the Postal Service to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that mail-in ballots may not be processed in time to be counted. He said the problem was with state deadlines for sending election mail, and he encouraged Americans to vote early.

"This was a very, very well-thought out effort to safeguard the election, not to get in the way," he said. "The general word around here is, vote early." 

By Grace Segers
 

DeJoy says he has not spoken to the president about the postal service

Under questioning by the top Democrat on the committee, Michigan Senator Gary Peters, DeJoy defended the recent operational changes and his decision to suspend them until after the election. He explained his reasoning for changes such as limiting extra delivery trips and paid overtime.

"The policy was not to eliminate extra trips, it was to mitigate extra trips," DeJoy said. He also denied that he had eliminated overtime, even though Peters noted that it had been significantly curtailed, which has led to some delays in mail delivery.

"Since I've been here, we've spent $700 million on overtime," DeJoy said. He also said there was "no intention" to bring back mail sorting machines, claiming they were "not needed."

DeJoy also bristled against insinuations from Peters that he had made any of these changes at the direction of the president.

"I have never spoken to the president about the postal service," DeJoy said, adding that he also had never spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the changes.

He also called it an "outrageous claim" to say that he was in any way trying to slow delivery of election mail. 

By Grace Segers
 

DeJoy defends the removal of mailboxes

DeJoy defended the recent removal of blue mailboxes, which has raised concerns that the Trump administration is deliberately trying to slow down mail delivery. DeJoy said this was a "normal process."

"This is a normal process that's been around 50 years," DeJoy said.

He also denied there was any sinister motivation behind removing mail sorting machines.

"We really are moving these machines out to make room for processing packages," he said, adding that he didn't know about the removal of mailboxes and sorting machines until after the fact. "I was made aware when everyone else was made aware." 

By Grace Segers
 

DeJoy discusses need for reforms to ensure financial stability

DeJoy says he believes the Postal Service requires a series of reforms to ensure that it remains financially stable.

"Changes must be made to ensure our sustainability for the years and decades ahead," DeJoy said in his opening statement Friday. He added that "it is vital that Congress enact reform legislation," such as adding Medicare to the retirement plan for workers.

DeJoy also pushed back against concerns that recent delays in mail delivery could impede the delivery of mail-in ballots.

"As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee, and the American public, that the Postal Service is fully capable of delivering the nation's election mail securely and on time," DeJoy said.

In response to questioning from Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, he said the recent operational changes he implemented did not affect mail-in voting. He said there have been "no changes in any policies with regards to election mail."

He said there was "adequate capacity" to handle an influx of ballots. 

By Grace Segers
 

Former top Postal Service official testifies Mnuchin and White House were involved in slowing mail

The former Vice Chairman of the Postal Board of Governors testified on Thursday that the Trump administration has been "politicizing" the Postal Service and using Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to inappropriately influence the organization for political ends that will eventually harm the customers and businesses the Postal Service is supposed to serve.

David Williams, former USPS Inspector General and former Vice Chair of the USPS Board of Governors, testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus that he resigned "when it became clear to me that the administration was politicizing the Postal Service with the treasury secretary as the lead figure for the White House in that effort."

By statute, Mnuchin as treasury secretary is responsible for providing the Postal Service with a line of credit, Williams testified. But Mnuchin "was using that responsibility to make demands that I believed would turn the Postal Service into a political tool, ending its long history as an apolitical public infrastructure."

Read more here. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Trump slammed Senate Republicans over hearing

President Trump has criticized Senate Republicans for scheduling a hearing with the postmaster general just days before the Republican National Convention, complaining they were "playing right into" the hands of congressional Democrats.   

"Why are Republicans allowing the Democrats to have ridiculous Post Office hearings on Saturday & Monday, just before and during our Convention. Let them hold them NOW (during their Convention) or after our Convention is over. Always playing right into their hands!" Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday, tagging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.   

The president apparently confused the timing of the hearing, however, which is on Friday, not Saturday. DeJoy and Robert Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, also agreed to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee for a hearing on Monday.  

The Republican National Convention begins on Monday and lasts through next Thursday. The main events will take place in the evening, while the hearing with the House committee will be during the day on Monday.

Read more here. 

By Grace Segers
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