Postmaster General Louis DeJoy denied claims that the U.S. Postal Service is deliberately slowing down the delivery of election-related mail, after it implemented new practices like eliminating most overtime. This has allowed undelivered mail to pile up in post offices.
"Let me be clear that, with regard to election mail, the Postal Service and I are fully committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process," DeJoy said Friday at a meeting of the Postal Service Board of Governors. "We will do everything that we can to deliver election mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards, and despite any assertions to the contrary, we are not slowing down election mail or any other mail."
Democrats have raised concerns about the recent slowdowns in mail delivery, particularly since many voters will elect to cast their ballots by mail this November due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Democratic lawmakers including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Carolyn Maloney called on the Postal Service inspector general to investigate DeJoy's recent changes.
They say he hasn't adequately explained his decisions to cut the hours of operation of some post offices or to end overtime for postal workers, and they pointed to a recent report saying that his changes have already begun to result in delivery delays.
The lawmakers have asked the Postal Service watchdog to audit all the recently implemented operational changes, analyze the impact they've had on mail delivery and forecast their effect on the mail service required for the upcoming election.
The Democrats are also requesting that the IG assess whether DeJoy and his wife, who "reportedly own assets worth tens of millions" in competitors to the Postal Service, have fully complied with ethics requirements.
DeJoy, a businessman who contributed to President Trump and Republican causes before he was appointed postmaster general in May, also said that he would not allow his relationship with the president to influence his position.
"While I certainly have a good relationship with the president of the United States, the notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the president or anyone else in the administration is wholly off base," DeJoy said.
DeJoy's remarks came after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumerto him on Thursday to ask him to reverse the recent operational changes.
"These changes include reductions of overtime availability, restrictions on extra mail transportation trips, testing of new mail sorting and delivery policies at hundreds of Post Offices, and the reduction of the number and use of processing equipment at mail processing plants," the two Democratic leaders wrote.
"We believe these changes, made during the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, now threaten the timely delivery of mail—including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers, and absentee ballots for voters—that is essential to millions of Americans." the letter continued.
On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee also requested that DeJoy appear before the Democrat-led panel to discuss the changes causing delivery delays. The committee plans to hold the hearing with DeJoy on September 17.