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House panel will subpoena Postal Service, Louis DeJoy for records on mail delays

The postmaster general testified before the House Oversight Committee last week but declined to provide documentation from his short time in office

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy listens during a House Oversight Committee hearing in Washington on Aug. 24. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg)

The head of the House Oversight Committee says the panel will subpoena the U.S. Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to compel them to turn over documents pertaining to mail slowdowns and any communications DeJoy might have had with President Trump or members of his reelection campaign.

Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) plans to issue the subpoena on Wednesday. She is required by committee precedent to give the ranking Republican, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, 48 hours to provide input. DeJoy has until Sept. 16 to comply.

DeJoy declined the House panel’s request for records during a hearing last Monday. On Friday, two days after the committee’s deadline, DeJoy notified Maloney that he would not provide records voluntarily. “I trust my Aug. 24 testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Reform clarified any outstanding questions you had regarding operational changes that I have implemented,” he wrote.

Maloney also will call on Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service’s board of governors, to ask that the board comply with the requests too. She will subpoena the governors, as well, if they decline.

“In light of your refusal to produce documents in response to other members of Congress, I am now writing in my capacity as chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform to make a number of requests for documents and information,” Maloney wrote to Duncan. “I am also requesting, on behalf of the Committee, additional documents sought during your recent testimony before the Committee on August 24, 2020, and by members of our committee and others. If there are any questions about whether you are legally authorized to produce these documents, please let the Committee know, and we will issue a subpoena to resolve these doubts and compel their production.”

DeJoy turned down a similar request for documents from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, before which he testified on Aug. 21.

Later Monday, the Postal Service provided members with updated service performance data. On-time delivery rates remain worse than before DeJoy took office for first-class mail (down from more than 90 percent on-time, to just more than 85 percent) and periodicals (down from 80 percent to 75 percent). Marketing mail on-time delivery rates have returned to pre-DeJoy levels.

Late mail delivery trips have dropped 72.3 percent and extra trips fell 67.1 percent since DeJoy’s initiatives took effect, according to the data, though the changes discourage late and extra mail delivery trips even if transport trucks are dispatched without much mail on board.

The Postal Service in a statement said it had been working with Oversight Committee staff to provide “additional information,” including discussing fulfilling records requests.

“Given the straightforward and cooperative nature of these communications with the committee staff, we were frankly surprised and confused by Chairwoman Maloney’s statement today about her intent to issue a subpoena to the Postal Service,” the statement said. “We will continue to cooperate with the oversight committees in both the House and Senate, and we fully intend to comply with our obligations under the law.”

During the House hearing, committee members requested any analysis the Postal Service conducted on the effectiveness of the operational changes DeJoy instituted at the agency, which included eliminating extra mail delivery trips and stricter dispatch schedules that have caused mail and packages to pile up undelivered.

Postal workers from coast to coast and national union leaders also say workers were told overtime hours would be eliminated and that the directive was issued by the postmaster general. Memos circulated to mid-level managers and obtained by The Washington Post stated that DeJoy planned to eliminate overtime hours.

“Carriers were ordered off the streets at 5 o’clock whether you finished your route or you didn’t finish your route,” said Al Friedman, president of the Florida State Association of Letter Carriers. “That was everywhere. That was all over Florida.”

A letter carrier in New Jersey told The Post he was ordered to do the same thing.

In sworn testimony, DeJoy denied ever giving such an order.

On Aug. 18, he suspended some of the cost-cutting moves until after the November election. Asked by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D. C.) if he knew who issued the overtime directive or drafted the relevant memos, DeJoy responded, “I have purposely not tried to find out who that was.”

But DeJoy is considering additional changes after the Nov. 3 vote. The plans under consideration, described by four people familiar with Postal Service discussions, include geography-based pricing, lower mail delivery standards and price hikes.

“There is a path that we are planning, okay, with the help of some legislation, with some cost impacts, with some new revenue strategies that will help and some pricing freedom from the [Postal Regulatory Commission] — we believe we have a plan to do that,” DeJoy testified before the Senate. “But one thing that’s not in the plan is not doing anything after the election.”