The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold an April 22 hearing on President Joe Biden’s three nominees to serve on the U.S. Postal Board of Governors, the panel announced Wednesday.
The announcement comes after the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in March outlined a proposed 10-year strategic plan that would slow current first-class delivery standards and raise some prices to stem $160 billion in forecasted red ink over the next decade.
The plan has drawn criticism from many U.S. lawmakers including some calling for the board to fire Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others who have urged Biden to remove the existing board members.
DeJoy, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, was named head of the Postal Service last year. After heavy criticism, DeJoy suspended operational changes in August ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats said the service cuts were an attempt to boost Trump’s re-election chances. DeJoy denied that and in testimony before Congress noted USPS delivered more than 135 million ballots ahead of the 2020 elections and “went to extraordinary lengths” to get ballots delivered.
Biden nominated Anton Hajjar, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union; Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to expanding vote-by-mail systems and former elections official in Denver; and Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general.
The six current board members and DeJoy are all white men and the board’s lack of diversity has also come under criticism.
USPS officials told Reuters last month they were optimistic Congress will pass financial reforms providing the money-losing agency with as much as $60 billion in relief. DeJoy has warned without changes USPS would need a “government bailout.”
Representative Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the committee overseeing USPS, has circulated draft legislation that would eliminate a requirement USPS pre-fund retiree health benefits. It also would require postal employees to enroll in government-retiree health plan Medicare.
USPS reported net losses of $86.7 billion since 2007. One reason is 2006 legislation mandating it pre-fund more than $120 billion in retiree health care and pension liabilities, a requirement labor unions have called an unfair burden not shared by other businesses.
DeJoy’s revamp plan would revise existing one-to-three-day service standards for first-class mail letters to one to five days. USPS said 61% of current first-class mail volume would stay at its current standard.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry)
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