Call for an end to Democrats’ mailbox myths and unsubstantiated partisan rhetoric
WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) opened today’s hearing about the United States Postal Service (USPS) with calls for bipartisan reforms and an end to the unsubstantiated, partisan attacks against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
In his remarks, Comer emphasized the unsustainability of USPS’ current business model. He commended Postmaster General DeJoy for his commitment to confront the realities facing USPS and make reforms. Comer voiced optimism for DeJoy’s future plan while calling on Congress to make bipartisan reforms to ensure USPS’ fiscal sustainability and improve service for the American people.
In his remarks, Hice, while voicing concerns about the Postal Service’s shortfalls, called for a reasonable discussion about meaningful fixes to improve USPS. He expressed concerns about the Democrats’ postal conspiracy theories and debunked their myths with the facts.
Below are Ranking Member Comer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you for calling this hearing, Madam Chair. Thank you for your sincere desire for bipartisan postal reform.
After all the talk about the Postal Service over the past year, I am glad we are finally doing something that has the potential to address the real issues facing the Postal Service and improve service and delivery for the American people.
But, I must add, last year in this committee, Democrats spun wild conspiracy theories about Postmaster DeJoy’s plan to steal the election by removing unnecessary blue postal boxes and underused mail sorting machines.
History has already shown that baseless conspiracy theory to be untrue, and it will go down in history with other baseless conspiracy theories, like the ones Adam Schiff spun in the Intelligence Committee.
Postmaster General DeJoy was attacked for trying to tackle two glaring problems with postal operations that must be addressed: having the trucks leave on time and reducing the massive amounts of overtime postal workers accumulate.
Again, Republicans debunked the Democrats’ mailbox myths and said repeatedly we should devote our energies towards fixing the Postal Service’s broken business model.
With election year politics behind us, I am thankful Chairwoman Maloney has agreed to take on the important but difficult task of postal reform. Preserving and shaping the United States Postal Service is one of the most fundamental and important jobs of this Committee.
The core issues that plague the Postal Service is relatively straightforward: demand for First Class Mail has plunged and costs have stayed the same.
No business could be expected to survive in such a scenario without making tough decisions.
A second core issue is emerging: demand for packages has exploded and the Postal Service isn’t equipped to deal with it.
There are other issues—foremost of which should be the needs of the American public—which together create a very complex challenge to address.
One issue likely to be front and center today: How to pay for the benefits the Postal Service promises to its employees, which now make up well over $100 billion in unfunded liabilities.
As of now, there is no plan for how to pay for these promises. Funding by some estimates will be depleted by 2030.
The Postal Service cannot be left to default on its retirees. It will require creative solutions and sacrifices from all interested parties—and there are many—to make this work.
We cannot ignore this problem. There are realities we must confront and address. Hard decisions must be made. This challenge calls for bipartisanship, and I am thankful Chairwoman Maloney has made the offer to work together on this effort.
Like all Americans, I am deeply concerned about the performance of the Postal Service over the past year. The delays in mail delivery across the country hurt small businesses, prevented the timely delivery of medication, hindered bills from being delivered on time, and presented numerous other problems for the American people.
I have spoken to Postmaster DeJoy about these delays, and I am eager to learn more today about how this issue is being addressed and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.
But I will say this—Mr. DeJoy is finalizing a business reform plan. The last postmaster general promised us to deliver such a plan back in 2019, but it never arrived. Most of you will remember that hearing when Elijah Cummings and Mark Meadows grilled the former Postmaster General, ‘why haven’t you brought a plan?’—that plan never arrived.
The status quo at the Postal Service is not sustainable. Postmaster General DeJoy should be commended for doing the hard work to confront the realities facing the Postal Service.
I am eager to work with both my Republican and Democratic colleagues to reform the Postal Service, ensure its fiscal sustainability, and improve service for the American people. We must tackle and address the real issues facing the Postal Service.
I look forward from hearing from today’s witnesses on their ideas to improve the Postal Service.
Below are Subcommittee Ranking Member Hice’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
Chairwoman Maloney, thank you for calling this hearing. We all agree that the Postal Service is critical for our country and it calls for serious debate, but I agree with the Ranking Member that for the past year Democrats spread false information and blamed Republicans, the previous Administration, and the Postal Service for an attempt to coopt the 2020 elections. We are dealing with that. By way of remembrance, I have some quotes.
“An attack on our postal service and an attempt to dismantle our postal service out of a selfish desire to sabotage our democracy and maintain a grip on power is an attack on all of us.” – that was Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.
So, somehow last year we were all in here—us, Mr. DeJoy, and the Postal Service—accused of sabotaging our democracy.
Speaker Pelosi had this to say: “The President, his cronies and Republicans in Congress continue to wage their all-out assault on the Postal Service and its role in ensuring the integrity of the 2020 election.”
So, somehow, we were all involved in an attempt to destroy the election.
Another member of this committee—Mr. DeJoy you’ll probably remember this—said, “How dare you disenfranchise so many voters. You know that it is a felony for a postal officer or employee to delay delivery of mail. Somehow you can delay all the mail and get away with it. They can be prosecuted. You can’t even if your actions are a million times worse.” Then he said, “Mr. DeJoy, is your backup plan to be pardoned, like Roger Stone”
How unfair to make those kinds of unbelievable accusations and allegations. That same Representative went on and suggested we may need to arrest you in order to have you show up here. That was of course unnecessary, as you’ve done it voluntarily.
These comments and images, such as this one of our colleague Mr. DeFazio chained to a mailbox. This did nothing but create fear in the American people. This did nothing but put distrust in the American people in the Postal Service. We endured this all year long.
Let’s also remember what the underlying actions by Postmaster DeJoy were:
Removing blue mail drop boxes. Was this an attempt to sabotage the election? Absolutely not. It was part of a routine process to take out or relocate underused boxes. 35,000 of those dropboxes had been removed over the previous decade, 12,000 under President Obama’s watch. We didn’t hear anything about it then. It was only when Mr. DeJoy continued the process of scaling down.
Taking out mail sorting machines. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact mail volume has drastically declined and these machines take up a lot of room—space needed for packaging processing.
He tried to reduce overtime. The Postal Inspector General has documented rampant overtime use—and abuse—for years. This cost the Post Service $1.1 billion in 2018 alone. If that much overtime is the norm for your operation, then I think you have a serious problem.
Perhaps all of this that I’m saying is water under the bridge at this point—I certainly hope so. Maybe now we can get back to the real issue at hand, which is authentic reform of the Postal Service.
Maybe, the efforts of Postmaster Dejoy will be put behind us.
Maybe, now that the election is over, perhaps things will calm down as it relates to the rhetoric that has been so consistent from the Democrats.
Or, maybe, it won’t. We will see.
As we roll into this debate, which Chairwoman Maloney has said she hopes this to be a bipartisan movement, but again, I would say just yesterday. Another member of our committee made this statement:
“Louis DeJoy is a political hack, a crony of Donald Trump, and a massive Republican donor. He’s taken a wrecking ball to the U.S. Postal Service.”
I don’t know that we are going to get over some of the rhetoric or not.
And, quite frankly, I would venture to raise the question, with that kind of statement made just yesterday, Are now to assume that the Biden Administration isn’t going to have anyone in any position appointed who has not given money to the Democrats?
Are we to assume from that kind of statement that Republicans have the greenlight to day in and day out relentlessly go after any member of the Biden Administration that has donated in the past to Democrats?
While today’s hearing is about the Postal Service, it is not supposed to be about Louis DeJoy, but I doubt if that it is going to be the case.
Why does this matter?
At the end of the day, I, like the Ranking Member, have concerns about the poor performance of the Postal Service over recent months. Our office has been covered up with complaints. Mr. DeJoy is the captain of the ship. The buck stops with him.
The important thing, at the end of the day, is for the Postal Service to have strong leadership and they have a plan to improve rather than sit back and wait for more taxpayer bailouts and assistance.
But, if we are going to demand reforms, which we should, why should we believe there is not going to be more of the insane damaging rhetoric of the past? I hope I am wrong with that.
Why should we believe any steps—other than those in this draft bill, which really erases tens of billions of dollars in missed payments and unfunded liabilities, which frankly I support those basic concepts in this draft bill—but those things are not enough. But, why should we believe that the rabid resistance is not going to continue?
If removing blue boxes, mail sorters and trying to bring sanity to overtime usage makes the postmaster general a criminal by the Postmaster, then what in the world is going to happen to his business reform plan?
What is any postmaster general – be it Louis DeJoy or otherwise – going to be able to do to right the ship of the Postal Service?
I will be interested to hearing some of these questions answered today today. It is important we get their input on what we should and should not do with respect to postal reform and get beyond nonsensical, insane, rabid rhetoric that has been coming for the past year, and I hope we will be able to do that.