The White House moved toward reasserting control of the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday even as its Republican postmaster general defiantly told Congress he would press forward with plans to raise prices and slow the mail, brushing off calls for him to resign.

President Biden named two Democrats and a voting rights advocate to fill three of the four openings on the Postal Service’s governing board, according to three people briefed on the discussions and later confirmed by the White House: Ron Stroman, the Postal Service’s recently retired deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, the chief executive of the National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union.

If all three win Senate confirmation, the nine-member board would be made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans with McReynolds, whose organization is a darling of left-leaning groups, as the lone independent.

The new slate would create a Democratic advantage and potentially the votes to oust DeJoy, whose summer overhaul led to precipitous service declines that snarled up untold numbers of Americans’ bills, prescriptions and paychecks. DeJoy, with the current board’s backing, slashed overtime and dramatically reduced mail processing capabilities, moves deemed by an inspector general’s audit to reflect a lack of preparation or concern for how they might affect service.

Though the mail slowdowns have opened DeJoy to intense public scrutiny and raised the hackles of some postal experts and voting rights activists, he has made clear he would continue to push through his agenda to rein in the agency’s $188.4 billion in liabilities. He testified to a House panel Wednesday that discussions for his new strategic plan included further delivery slowdowns.

On Feb. 24, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the Postal Service was “evaluating all service standards,” including longer timetables for local mail. (The Washington Post)

Congressional Democrats had pushed Biden to move quickly on the nominations. Mailing industry insiders and Congressional staff briefed by the White House and Biden’s transition team say the governors represent the most direct line for the administration to not only revitalize mail delivery but to expand government services, including broadband and banking access, as well as fortify agency oversight.

“I’m pleased the Biden administration is making the postal board of governors a top priority," said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which will oversee the nominees’ confirmation process. "We need to get qualified nominees in these seats who will work with Congress to ensure the Postal Service is focused on strong service performance — and we need to do it quickly.”

The move is a potential boon for voting rights groups, which have pressed Congress to use the Postal Service to expand vote-by-mail access as a firewall against Republican state legislatures that have introduced bills to do the opposite.

The new bloc is likely to be embraced by the powerful postal unions, whose leaders have privately expressed worries that DeJoy would cut jobs or contract work to private firms to reduce expenses.

More than 70 House Democrats called on Biden to move quickly on the nominations in a letter last week. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and several House Democrats went further, urging Biden to fire the board’s six sitting members and start from scratch.

The board’s lack of diversity drew pointed remarks during Wednesday’s hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The White House, in a statement this month, said Biden would choose nominees who “reflect his commitment to the workers of the U.S. Postal Service — who deliver on the post office’s vital universal service obligation.”

The White House, Stroman and McReynolds did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hajjar declined to comment.

“I applaud President Biden’s nominations of three new members to the Postal Service Board of Governors. It is crystal clear that the Postal Service’s performance and its financial condition have deteriorated significantly, and new and better leadership is urgently needed,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “I also commend the President for his continuing commitment to appoint individuals who represent the diversity of America. The board nominations today reflect that commitment.”

The body’s six sitting members are all older men, and all but one is White. The Postal Service’s workforce is disproportionately Black and female, compared to the rest of the federal workforce, and the agency has been a historical driver of employment in Black communities.

“Do you see it as a problem that the board of governors of the United States Postal Service looks like a millionaire White boys’ club?” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) asked DeJoy, noting that “more than 35 percent of postal workers are people of color.”

DeJoy responded that “the Postal Service would love to have a diverse board that reflects its population,” and that the nomination process was controlled solely by the White House and Senate.

“The quicker we get some new board members from the administration, the less we can talk about this and move on to the plan and the real, real problems that we need to fix here,” he added.

Industry officials lauded the nominations, but said they had much to learn about McReynolds, whose postal background is largely on voting rights, and Hajjar, who left APWU several years ago.

“We’re very encouraged that the administration moved this fast,” said Art Sackler, manager of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, an industry group whose members include Amazon, eBay and other commercial mailers. “We hope there will be a speedy confirmation process.” (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

DeJoy spent most of the hearing dodging questions about his forthcoming strategic plan for the Postal Service, which includes higher prices and slower delivery, according to two people briefed on the details, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal is not yet complete.

Under questioning from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) about the agency’s plan to eliminate two-day delivery windows for local mail, DeJoy said the agency was “evaluating all service standards.” When pressed further, he said that his plan would include two-day mail but that “some percentage of where the reach is right now may change” and “you need to define local.”

“If we in fact get the relief that we need in terms of time, we will put more mail on the ground,” DeJoy told Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) moments later, citing problems with the Postal Service’s air transportation network as cause for delays over the holiday season.

That policy change, according to mailing and logistics experts, would gridlock the entire postal network.

“It sounds like your solution to the problems we’ve identified is just surrender,” Raskin said.

Several Republicans used the hearing to defend DeJoy and deride Democrats’ concerns from postal hearings over the summer. They had raised questions about the processing of absentee ballots ahead of an election that would largely be conducted by mail. It sparked tense exchanges between Democrats who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump, and Republicans who, citing falsehoods about mail-in voting, attempted to overturn the election that removed him from office.

“You were the worst guy on the planet last time you were here,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said. “I just want to know what’s changed.”

DeJoy responded, “Well, we had an election.”

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) called Jordan’s assertions “gaslighting” and referenced Trump’s false claims about fraud in mail-in voting.

Connolly asked Ron Bloom, the board chair, whether the governors were still “tickled pink” by the hiring of DeJoy, alluding to the description used by GOP board member John Barger in testimony before a Senate panel on Sept. 9, 2020.

“I’m generally not tickled pink by things,” Bloom said. “But as I said, the board of governors believes the postmaster general in very difficult circumstances is doing a good job.”

Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed to this report.

8:59 p.m.
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Rep. Pressley makes case for postal banking to raise revenue and advance ‘economic justice’

Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) argued in favor of allowing the Postal Service to provide expanded financial services “to simultaneously increase revenue for the U.S. Postal Service while advancing economic justice.”

Postal banking, as it’s generally called, would allow the agency to provide services such as check cashing, savings accounts and certain loans. The idea has the backing of the American Postal Workers Union. Dimondstein, its president, said the agency already has statutory authority to expand its existing financial offerings, which include money orders and limited check cashing.

“We’re in all these neighborhoods where banks have pulled out,” Dimondstein said. “We’re trusted, we’re trained, we’re accountable, we’re dedicated, and 91 percent of the people in the country, through the entire political spectrum, support the Postal Service and trust postal workers.”

Advocates for postal banking, including a number of economists, say expanded financial services could help reach the 6 percent of adults who currently do not have access to a bank account. A 2014 report by the Postal Service inspector general estimated that expanded banking could generate roughly $8.9 billion in new annual revenue.

As historian Christopher W. Shaw recently noted in an essay for The Washington Post, postal banking was widespread in the United States until the 1960s, when private sector bankers “successfully lobbied to shutter the Postal Savings System.”

8:02 p.m.
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Biden is said to nominate three to USPS board of governors

President Biden will nominate a former U.S. Postal Service executive, a leading voting rights advocate and a former postal union leader to the mail service’s governing board, according to three people briefed on the nominees, a move that will reshape the agency’s leadership and increase pressure on the embattled postmaster general.

Biden will nominate Ron Stroman, the Postal Service’s recently retired deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, the chief executive of National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy.

If confirmed, the nominees would give Democrats a majority on the nine-member board of governors, with potentially enough votes to oust DeJoy, who testified Wednesday before a House panel that his new strategic plan for the mail service included slowing deliveries.

The composition of the postal board elicited sharp remarks before and during Wednesday’s hearing. Several lawmakers have decried the lack of diversity among the governors.

The move is a potential boon for voting rights groups, which have urged congressional Democrats to use the Postal Service to expand vote by mail access as a firewall against Republicans in state legislatures that have introduced bills to do the opposite.

It also is likely to be embraced by the powerful postal unions, whose leaders have privately expressed worries that DeJoy would cut jobs or contract work to private firms to cut costs.

The people briefed on the nominations said a formal announcement from the White House could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

More than 70 congressional Democrats wrote to Biden on Feb. 17, asking him to submit nominations for three of the four openings on the governing board. Bloom, the board chairman and the body’s senior Democrat, is serving in a one-year holdover role after his term expired in December.

The White House, in a statement this month, said Biden would choose nominees who “reflect his commitment to the workers of the U.S. Postal Service — who deliver on the post office’s vital universal service obligation.”

The White House, Stroman and McReynolds did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hajjar declined to comment.

Cleve Wootson and Hannah Denham contributed to this report.

8:01 p.m.
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USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb says agency needs more revenue to stay afloat

Tammy Whitcomb, the inspector general whose office oversees the Postal Service’s finances and operations, said the agency should explore new revenue sources such as partnering with Internet providers or government agencies to improve infrastructure.

While testifying virtually during Wednesday’s hearing, Whitcomb said that even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States nearly one year ago, the Postal Service‘s processing network wasn’t as efficient as it could be, largely due to revenue loss persistent for nearly 15 years.

“The ability of the Postal Service to meet its service standards is always important, especially during the current pandemic, when Americans are relying so heavily on it to deliver critical items like checks, medicines, packages and ballots,” she said, highlighting the “perfect storm” of postal challenges that the agency has had to navigate.

Whitcomb said her office is investigating struggling service performance in Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; and Detroit, as well as looking into overwhelmed facilities where the agency stopped accepting mail.

In the weeks leading up to the November election, Whitcomb’s office sent 500 employees to conduct field work in more than 2,000 postal facilities across the country. She said that the agency generally prioritized and delivered ballots effectively and that her office would release a report on its service performance soon.

Whitcomb was appointed by the Postal Service’s nine-member board of governors in November 2018 as the third inspector general. Her role involves reporting to the Postal Service’s governors and keeping Congress and Postal Service management informed about her office’s work and areas to improve efficiency and finances.

7:58 p.m.
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Why do committee members keep asking about the Hatch Act?

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) was blocked from touring mail-processing facilities in September. At the time, the Postal Service cited the Hatch Act, a law designed to separate public office from politics, in its refusal of facility tours by Wasserman Schultz and other lawmakers in the weeks leading up to the November election, as concern over mail delays affecting ballots swelled.

During Wednesday’s hearing, she asked DeJoy whether he would allow members of Congress to tour facilities moving forward. DeJoy said he would check with the agency’s legal counsel.

But what is the Hatch Act? The anti-corruption law was passed in 1939, prohibiting civil servants and federal workers from mixing their employment with partisan politics — such as using their title, office or government resources while engaging in political activities.

The law was passed following the Great Depression, after Democratic officials co-opted Works Progress Administration federal employees to help with swing-state campaigning. The Office of Special Counsel is responsible for investigating and charging individuals —- the law applies to millions of workers, ranging from top national security officials to unpaid interns. If charged, employees can lose pay or their jobs, but it’s not a criminal offense.

But in 2018, the Office of Special Counsel issued guidance that allowed for elected officials to visit federal facilities for an “official purpose, such as receiving briefings, tours, or other official information.”

“I am not aware of any violations,” DeJoy said during Wednesday’s hearing when asked about the existence of Hatch Act violations by postal employees during 2020.

7:42 p.m.
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Rep. Bush questions lack of diversity on postal board: ‘Looks like a millionaire white boys’ club’

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) focused on the board of governors as a potential target for postal reform.

Under questioning from Bush, Chairman Ron Bloom noted that the panel has six members plus the postmaster general, fewer than the 11 members mandated by statute.

“I believe it’s been at least six or seven years since we had a full board,” he said. In response to a follow-up question about diversity, Bloom said that “the board is comprised today of six white males.”

Board member Roman Martinez, an investment banker, immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a child in 1960, according to testimony he presented during his nomination.

Current members include three investment bankers, one coal industry lobbyist, the chief executive of an air industry lobbying firm, and the CEO of a shipping and transportation company. Louis DeJoy also helmed a shipping firm before taking over the Postal Service.

Bush’s next question was for DeJoy: “Do you see it as a problem that the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service looks like a millionaire white boys’ club,” she asked, noting that “more than 35 percent of postal workers are people of color.”

DeJoy responded that “the Postal Service would love to have a diverse board that reflects its population,” and that the nomination process was controlled solely by the White House and the Senate.

“The quicker we get some new board members from the administration, the less we can talk about this and move on to the plan and the real, real problems that we need to fix here,” he added.

Democratic lawmakers are pressing Joe Biden’s administration to fill empty seats on the board, with an eye toward potentially ousting DeJoy from power.

7:27 p.m.
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Rep. Porter tells DeJoy she’s concerned his new strategic plan is neither ‘strategic nor a plan’

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) asked DeJoy whether his proposed reforms could serve both performance and financial objectives at the agency.

DeJoy said the Postal Service’s total liabilities are $80 billion, but according to The Washington Post’s reporting, liabilities have climbed to $188 billion.

“I’ve heard that you have a new strategic plan, but I’m really concerned that this plan may neither be strategic nor a plan,” Porter said. “Have you figured out if this new plan would save money and improve performance?”

DeJoy said the Postal Service has conducted several “extensive studies” in the past eight months on how it can improve reliability and reduce costs, which will be reflected in his strategic plan, though it has yet to be finalized.

Porter said the committee will request that he share this analysis, the studies and a list of consultants that contributed to the studies and new strategic plan.

“You’ve said you’re committed to managing the U.S. Postal Service with excellence. With that in mind, what are the aspects of Postal Service today that you view as most critical, that you treasure the most?” Porter asked DeJoy. “What are you not willing to change just to make a buck?”

“One of the key attributes of the Postal Service that I think is very important, both from the standpoint of what it does for the nation and also for its viability, because this Congress, as previous Congresses say, it needs to remain self-sustaining,” DeJoy said.

7:02 p.m.
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Mfume: Mail delays ‘harmful’ to constituents yet ‘continue to worsen’

Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) noted that regardless of the intent behind DeJoy’s cutbacks to mail service, the net effects of the changes include a lot of human suffering.

“There are a lot of people who have suffered and had to pay extra money, late fees for bills” that were sent on time but delayed by the Postal Service, he said. “And there were the many of those who missed out on their medication schedules because their medications were not on time. These delays have had harmful impacts on the lives of our constituents, and yet they continue to worsen.”

Last fall, major pharmacies told lawmakers they had experienced increased delivery times for medications. Conditions deteriorated further over the holidays. While service has improved somewhat since then, reports of extreme mail delays remain common.

Pressed by Mfume, DeJoy said he expected to be ready to unveil the agency’s new strategic plan “within the next two weeks.”

6:56 p.m.
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400,000 sign petition urging Biden to quickly fill empty USPS board seats

More than 400,000 people have signed a petition urging President Biden to fill four vacant seats on the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board, a move that would reshape the agency’s leadership and add to mounting pressure on DeJoy.

The petition, circulated by the American Postal Workers Union and such advocacy groups as Move On, Public Citizen and People for the American Way, calls on Biden to nominate governors for Senate confirmation who “are fully committed to vibrant, public and universal postal services; reject the postmaster general’s agenda of cutting service and slowing the mail; will champion emergency COVID-relief for USPS; will support an agenda of expanding the role of the USPS in serving our communities.”

“We need a strong board that reflects the will of the people,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in a statement. “We need leaders who will support prompt, reliable and efficient service, and public servants who understand that this is the United States Postal ‘Service’ and not the United States Postal ‘Business.’”

Governors serve staggered seven-year terms on the nine-member board. President Donald Trump inherited an empty governing board and appointed seven members; Democrat David C. Williams resigned in May in protest over the board’s selection of DeJoy as postmaster general.

Democrats have pushed Biden to use the new appointments to create a majority bloc with the votes to oust DeJoy, who has presided over a historic decline in mail service linked to pandemic conditions and delays caused by his operational changes.

6:47 p.m.
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Private sector is losing confidence in the Postal Service, company CEO warns

One of the less familiar witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing was Joel Quadracci, chief executive of Quad. The Wisconsin-based company is one of the nation’s largest printing operations, responsible for about 8 billion pieces of mail annually — “approximately 12% of the overall marketing mail volume in the country,” according to Quadracci’s prepared testimony.

Marketing mail — “direct mail” in U.S. Postal Service parlance or “junk mail” to its detractors — is a major component of the Postal Service’s operations. It accounts for nearly 20 percent of total revenue and roughly half of all mail volume, according to the agency’s latest annual report to Congress.

“From a combination of service and pricing circumstances over the past year, our coalition and the industry as a whole are alarmed about and questioning not only their own continued use of the postal system, but the overall impact on postal volumes and revenues, and the Postal Service’s continued ability to fund and do its job,” Quadracci wrote.

The industry was particularly unhappy with “planning that left USPS short of personnel and transportation capacity” and “a lack of transparency as to where USPS was struggling with staffing and other shortages” in the past year, he added.

Quadracci contends that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s proposed postal-rate increases will incentivize individuals and businesses to find cheaper ways to get their messages out, causing mail volume and service to drop even further. Mailers would be “paying more — a lot more — and getting less,” he wrote. “For small businesses and nonprofits, this can be problematic to the point of leaving the system altogether, or even existential.”

The industry prefers the provisions included in the draft legislation being considered by the House Oversight Committee, he wrote, including eliminating the onerous requirement to pre-fund Postal Service retiree health benefits, requiring postal employees to enroll in Medicare upon retirement, and improved reporting on the agency’s performance.

“The industry’s faith and confidence in the USPS to perform is critical; without that confidence, alternatives for mailers throughout our coalition will become more attractive out of necessity,” Quadracci added. “And, unfortunately, the industry’s confidence in USPS has been shaken.”

6:32 p.m.
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DeJoy confirms his USPS plan may include slower first-class mail

On Feb. 24, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the Postal Service was “evaluating all service standards,” including longer timetables for local mail. (The Washington Post)

DeJoy confirmed Wednesday that his forthcoming strategic plan for the U.S. Postal Service will include cuts to delivery service standards, specifically the two-day standard for local mail, and that less first-class mail will be transported by plane.

Under questioning from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), DeJoy said the agency was “evaluating all service standards.” When pressed further, he said that his plan would include two-day mail but that “some percentage of where the reach is right now may change” and “you need to define local.”

“If we in fact get the relief that we need in terms of time, we will put more mail on the ground,” DeJoy told Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) moments later, citing problems with the Postal Service’s air transportation network as cause for delays over the holiday season.

That policy change, according to mailing and logistics experts, would slow the entire postal network, something DeJoy appeared to acknowledge.

To get from New York to California … we can’t do that on a truck,” DeJoy said.

“It sounds like your solution to the problems we’ve identified is just surrender,” Raskin shot back. “You’re basically saying, ‘Because the mail has been late under your leadership, we’re just going to change the standards and build it into the system that it will be late.’”

6:24 p.m.
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Congressman who spread unfounded mail ballot allegations very concerned about unfounded mail ballot allegations

“We’ve got to get away from the attacks and allegations that are unfounded,” said Hice, the Georgia Republican, referring to statements from Congressional Democrats accusing DeJoy of deliberately sabotaging mail-in voting in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Democrats voiced suspicion about the timing of DeJoy’s service changes last year — which have been blamed for much of the service slowdown and came as Trump ramped up his baseless attacks on the integrity of voting by mail. While there is no evidence indicating the changes were intended to suppress vote by mail, many outside observers questioned the wisdom of cutting Postal Service during a pandemic and before an election in which record numbers of Americans would mail their ballots.

Lawmakers’ suspicions were deepened by Trump’s own remarks linking postal funding to mailed ballots.

Hice is no stranger to unfounded allegations. Ahead of the Nov. 3 vote, he echoed many of Trump’s false and misleading remarks about mailed ballots and voter fraud. Afterward, he signed on to a letter by Georgia’s Republican Congressional delegation that made unsupported claims of “voting irregularities” in the state.

Hice was a key player in GOP efforts to throw out Georgia’s election results based on baseless accusations of fraud. After a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he joined 146 other Republican lawmakers in voting to overturn presidential election results.

Hice closed his remarks by saying “there was a record-setting 135 million mail-in ballots with almost perfect delivery with those. And so I am hopeful that with this information cleared, we’ll be able to move forward in a bipartisan manner.”

“Thank you for your bipartisan comments,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) responded dryly.

6:07 p.m.
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Jordan asks about protesters; Connolly wants to know if board is still ‘tickled pink’ with DeJoy

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) began his questioning of DeJoy asserting that previous scrutiny of the postal leader and mail service performance was a politically motivated “charade,” coinciding with the lead-up to the November election.

“Mr. DeJoy, do you have any protesters at your house last night?”

“Not last night,” he responded.

“You had protesters banging on pots and pans outside your house. You had 90-some people calling for you to resign,” Jordan said to DeJoy, referring to the Aug. 24 committee hearing at which he testified. “You were the worst guy on the planet last time you were here. I just want to know what’s changed.”

DeJoy responded, “Well, we had an election.”

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) followed up by calling Jordan’s assertions “gaslighting” that don’t change the facts about mail delays. He referenced Trump’s unsupported claims last summer that voting by mail is fraudulent.

Connolly asked Bloom whether the board was still “tickled pink” by the hiring of DeJoy. That was the description used by John Barger, a Republican board member, in testimony before a Senate panel Sept. 9, 2020.

“I’m generally not tickled pink by things,” Bloom said. “But as I said, the board of governors believes the postmaster general in very difficult circumstances is doing a good job.”

Connolly said he disagreed, calling on Biden to overhaul the board of governors.

5:33 p.m.
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Postal Service finances are dire. Congress is partly to blame.

At the heart of today’s hearing is the dire financial condition of the Postal Service. But that situation is, in some ways, Congress’s fault: In 2006 the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA, in postal parlance) included the highly unusual mandate for the agency to pre-fund its employees’ retirement and health benefits.

At the time the Postal Service was posting annual operating profits, as The Post’s Jacob Bogage explained earlier this year, so the law made a certain amount of sense. But the timing could not have been worse: 2006 was the last year the agency was profitable.

The rise of smartphones in the following decade made texting, emailing and online bill-paying easier. Annual mail volume dropped at the worst possible time, just as the agency began shifting massive sums of money toward its retirement obligations. And the Great Recession compounded all of these problems.

The result is that in 2020 the Postal Service posted an operating loss of $9.2 billion, its 14th straight year in the red. The crises of the past year, including the coronavirus pandemic and drastic service changes instituted by DeJoy, have created even more instability. The task before House members now is to figure out how to right the postal ship before conditions deteriorate further.

5:25 p.m.
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Here’s why President Biden can’t fire Louis DeJoy, and who can

President Biden has very limited authority to oversee U.S. Postal Service operations — or Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

DeJoy was hired by, and reports to, the Postal Service’s governing board, a nine-member, bipartisan, Senate-confirmed panel. Only six of the nine seats on the board are filled, all appointed by former president Donald Trump, leaving Biden to fill the others.

But that is about as close as the president can come to directly influencing the agency. Postal policy is purposefully insulated from elected officials to prevent politicians from tinkering with the mail for political or personal gain.

Of the six members of the board of governors, four are Republicans and two are Democrats. The members serve staggered seven-year terms. The board’s chair, Democrat Ron Bloom, is serving in a one-year holdover slot after his term expired in December.

DeJoy told Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Wednesday that none of the members of the board of governors have called for him to resign.

More than 70 House Democrats last week urged Biden to quickly fill three of the four board vacancies to create the majority bloc with the votes necessary to oust DeJoy, if desired. More than 90 House Democrats called on the board to fire DeJoy in August.

“We do not doubt that the Postal Service requires some thoughtful reforms in order to continue to provide excellent service to the American people in the years to come; however, there is a plethora of evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy is not equipped to meet the rigors of these challenges,” the letter to Biden stated. “Filling the vacant seats on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors with strong, passionate advocates for the institution will allow it to function in a nonpartisan manner, and will allow the Board to seriously consider whether the current Postmaster General is suitable to continue in his role.”

The letter represents a growing split along familiar lines in the Democratic ranks, according to three people involved with caucus deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal disagreements. More progressive members are pushing for Biden to fire all six sitting members of the governing board — including Democrats Ron Bloom, the board’s chairman, and Donald Lee Moak — and start fresh with new governors that would dispatch DeJoy.

Reps. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.), Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) have already called for such an approach. The rest of the caucus has pushed Biden to be more deliberate and simply install new governors, rather than firing the lot. The letter, the people said, tries to walk a narrow line between the two camps, giving Biden political cover to reshape the agency while maintaining pressure on DeJoy and the governors.

“Joe Biden has talked about wanting to govern by consensus his whole presidential race,” said one of the people. “He’s not going to all of a sudden become someone he’s not, and go fire the board of governors.”