Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a Senate panel Friday that he’s "extremely highly confident" that the U.S. Postal Service will be able to handle the mail-in ballots it receives for this November’s elections, despite letters reportedly sent by his agency recently to 46 states warning that it cannot guarantee timely delivery of all votes sent by mail.
"As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time," DeJoy testified at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "This sacred duty is my No. 1 priority between now and Election Day."
DeJoy, a former logistics executive and a major donor to President Trump, has come under fire for changes he implemented at the Postal Service since taking office in June. DeJoy defended his moves Friday — and confirmed that, while he has suspended additional changes until after the election in response to a public outcry, he still plans sweeping changes and cost-cutting measures after the election.
“We are not self-sustaining,” DeJoy said Friday. “We have a $10 billion shortfall, and over the next 10 years we’ll have a $245 billion shortfall.”
Democrats want to provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, in part to help handle an expected surge of mail-in ballots, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has emphasized that the dollar figure is what the Postal Service Board of Governors earlier this year said it needed.
Asked by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) if the Postal Service needs a “massive federal bailout” to be able to deliver election mail, DeJoy said no, but suggested that the Postal Service should be reimbursed by the federal government for the costs of continuing to provide its services during the pandemic.
"I don't need anything to deliver mail on election night, but we do need legislative reform,” he said, adding, "We continued to do what we're supposed to do and at a significant cost impact, you know, and I'm one to try to get to a sustainable model, but in this case we — I believe we deserve some compensation for it.”
DeJoy also said the Postal Service needs to be freed from the requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that it pre-fund its employee retirement benefit programs, a controversial move that created huge financial challenges.
“If we just throw $25 billion at us this year and we don’t do anything, we’ll be back in two years,” he said.
Why it matters: “With DeJoy’s comments that he doesn’t need election-related funding, it could get harder for Democrats to persuade Republicans to fund the Postal Service in any coming coronavirus relief package,” The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips writes.
What’s next: The House is set to vote Saturday on the Democratic bill to provide $25 billion for the Postal Service. The White House said Friday that it “strongly opposes” the legislation and threatened to veto it. President Trump and White House officials have said that they would consider additional Postal Service funding as part of a coronavirus relief package as long as their other priorities were included.
DeJoy and Robert M. Duncan, chair of the Postal Service’s board, are scheduled to testify Monday before the House Oversight Committee.