KEY POINTS

  • DeJoy said the postal service will lose $9 billion this year
  • He said there's enough slack in the system to handle 160 million mail-in ballots if elections officials adhere to recommended deadlines
  • He told lawmakers he has instructed postal officials to redouble efforts on election deliveries

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Friday denied any political pressure to undermine mail-in voting for the November election by slowing mail delivery, calling any such suggestion “outrageous.”

Under questioning before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, DeJoy said he had never spoken to President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff or any Trump campaign officials about operational changes he has ordered.

DeJoy said at his first election mail meeting, he instructed his organization to redouble their efforts.

“I was greatly concerned about all the political noise we were hearing,” saying weekly reviews were underway before “all the excitement came out. Any insinuation [about undermining on-time delivery] is quite frankly outrageous.”

DeJoy said election mail will be treated like first-class, “in many cases better than first-class.”

DeJoy assured lawmakers there’s enough slack in the system to accommodate 160 million ballots if state election officials adhere to guidance on deadlines issued by postal officials.

“There has been no changes in any policies regarding election mail,” DeJoy said in addressing concerns that operational changes, removal of mail sorting machines and removal of mailboxes would impede delivery.

“If everyone complies … there will be absolutely no problem,” he said. “There’s slack in the system,” with first-class mail volume down 13% to 14%. He said mail sorting machines are being removed because the postal service needs more capacity for packages.

In his opening remarks, DeJoy warned unless Congress changes rules on how the postal funds pensions and healthcare mounting budget deficits -- $9 billion this year -- will only worsen.

“Our ability to fulfill that mandate [to deliver mail] in the coming years is at fundamental risk.  Changes must be made to ensure our sustainability for the years and decades ahead,” DeJoy said in his opening statement.

“Our business model – as established by Congress – requires us to pay our bills through our own efforts.  I view it as my personal obligation to put the organization in a position to fulfill that mandate.”

DeJoy said Congress needs to enact reform legislation that addresses what he described as “our unaffordable retirement payments.  Most importantly, Congress must allow the postal service to integrate our retiree health benefits program with Medicare, which is a common-sense practice followed by all businesses that still offer retiree health care.  It must also rationalize our pension funding payments.”

DeJoy testified the operational changes he has made will improve on-time delivery to 97% and that recent delivery delays were the result of rationalizing the system and should dissipate within a few weeks.

“There was a slowdown in the mail when our production did not meet the schedule,” DeJoy said, blaming the slowdown in part on staffing levels reduced by the pandemic.

Several lawsuits have been filed to block DeJoy's operational changes.

DeJoy denied he had eliminated extra trips by mail carriers or curtailed overtime. He said $700 million on overtime has been spent this year, a 13% rate. He also said he has issued no directive post office closures and ordered a suspension of any such activity until after the election, but there is no plan to bring back any of the sorting machines that already have been decommissioned.

“They’re not needed,” he said.

He said if the postal service is able to handle the volume of mail for holidays like Christmas and Mothers' Day, it is capable of handling election mail.

You can watch the testimony live below: