Good thing the legislation wasn’t introduced on a Sunday.
In normal times, most people can’t even name the postmaster general, the individual tasked with running the U.S. Postal Service. But since his appointment to the position in June 2020, Louis DeJoy has caused controversy with his proposals to raise prices, cut funding, and reduce hours.
DeJoy delayed many of originally-proposed changes, supposed to go into effect in summer and fall 2020, until after November’s election. The delay came after outcry that the Republican-supporting DeJoy was instituting the changes to benefit the GOP electorally, since Democrats indicated a greater willingness to vote by mail.
(DeJoy wasn’t technically nominated by Trump himself, but rather by the U.S. Postal Service Board, a majority of whom at the time had been nominated by Trump.)
After the election, though, DeJoy announced a number of changes in March. The Washington Post website features an interactive visualizing how mail delivery will be affected in your ZIP code.
What the legislation does
The DEJOY (Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round) Act would require mail service to abide by the same policies in effect on January 1, 2021 — effectively preventing any DeJoy-led service changes from going into effect.
The legislation wouldn’t affect non-service related mail changes from going into effect, such as stamp costs rising from 55 to 58 cents in August.
The House version was introduced on March 26 as H.R. 2230, by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL8). The Senate version was introduced nearly two months later on May 18 as S. 1678, by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
What supporters say
Supporters argue the legislation would preserve the quality of service Americans have come to know, which is why a 2020 Pew Research Center survey found the USPS was Americans’ favorite federal agency at 91 percent support.
“This particular change, going from 100 percent of first-class mail being delivered one to three days to only 70 percent, would be a nonstarter, in my opinion, with the American people,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi told the Washington Post. “This is the best way to kill your business, which is to basically say to your customers, ‘We’re not going to meet your expectations. You’re going to meet our service realities, regardless of what ends up happening.’”
“The U.S. Postal Service needs to be improving delivery rates — not walking them back to the days of the pony express,” Sen. Heinrich said in a separate press release. “I expect more of a willingness from Postmaster General DeJoy to improve one of the longest-standing services in America. If not, he needs to go. I’ll be fighting to strengthen the USPS in the meantime.”
What opponents say
Opponents counter that the USPS service changes may be unpopular but they’re necessary to ensure solvency, especially considering declining mail volume.
“[The Postal Service’s] long-standing financial, operational, and service problems predate the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been exacerbated by it,” DeJoy said at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in February. “Overall, these problems fundamentally threaten the Postal Service’s ability to continue achieving our public service mission over the long-term.”
“If our service, reliability, and costs do not improve — and improve soon — our ability to meet our universal service obligation (USO) will be threatened, and our relevancy diminished,” DeJoy continued. “It is impossible to expect service performance to meaningfully improve in an environment where costs are increasing, the network needs significant attention, customer expectations are growing, and we are losing $10 billion a year.”
Odds of passage
The House version has attracted nine cosponsors, all Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The Senate version has attracted two cosponsors, both Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.