Connolly’s retort: “I didn’t vote to overturn an election, and I will not be lectured by people who did, about partisanship!”
The Virginia Democrat is known for this type of acerbic skewering, delivered with fierce body language. He did it the last time DeJoy appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, too.
But this time, Connolly also directed the diatribe at his colleagues. For part of Wednesday afternoon, and at least in the soundbite-hungry world of Twitter, his latest dressing-down stole the show. He later shared footage of his tirade in a tweet that was retweeted more than 16,000 times within several hours.
“Sorry,” Connolly wrote in the tweet. “You lose the right to complain about partisanship once you’ve fanned the flames of violent insurrection.”
At the hearing, Connolly oscillated between giving Republican colleagues a tongue-lashing and casting doubt on the ability of the U.S. Postal Service’s leader to address serious mail slowdowns amid a precarious financial situation.
He asked postal board chairman Ron Bloom if board members were still “tickled pink” with DeJoy’s performance, as one GOP board member had told senators in September.
And when Bloom replied that DeJoy and the board had a sound plan in progress, Connolly said: “Respectfully, I disagree, and I hope President Biden disagrees as well and that we take action to replace the Board of Governors with people who care about the Postal Service and can be committed to their job of oversight and accountability.”
He then yielded his remaining time.
At that point, they were nearly two hours into the hearing. Claims of partisanship were running amok — tethered to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and DeJoy’s actions in a politically fragile time ahead of the election.
Back then, DeJoy unveiled sweeping cost-cutting measures, and Democrats accused DeJoy of seeking to slow — and thus sabotage — mail-in voting.
A federal judge blocked the service changes, saying DeJoy and Trump were engaging in a “politically motivated attack” on the agency.
But Republicans on the Oversight Committee said Wednesday that it was Democrats who were guilty of sabotage, accusing them of exaggerating their complaints about DeJoy in an effort to oust him.
“We’ve got to get away from the attacks and allegations that are unfounded,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), who is one of the purveyors of unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
“It was all a charade,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said of Democrats’ complaints about DeJoy’s performance. “It was all part of the predicate for laying the groundwork for the mail-in balloting and all the chaos and confusion the Democrats wanted.”
“All the gaslighting we just heard does not change the facts,” he began.
He turned to a witness, Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, and asked: “Am I making this up? As Mr. Jordan apparently would have you believe? That the president of the United States last summer publicly said voting by mail would lead to massive fraud? . . . Or am I imagining that?”
Dimondstein obligingly recalled the time last year Trump said he would block emergency relief funding to the Postal Service so that it did not have the money or the resources to carry out universal mail-in voting.
“That wasn’t a Democratic narrative,” Connolly said, before noting he was proud to be a Democrat. “That was a Republican narrative by the president of the United States and his enablers.”
Pointing to the federal judge’s finding that DeJoy and Trump were engaging in a “politically motivated attack,” Connolly insisted, “we didn’t make that up.”
Earlier this month, Connolly was among 80 Democratic lawmakers who called on President Biden to fill three vacancies on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, which has the power to remove or appoint a postmaster general.
By the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Biden had appointed two Democrats and a voting rights advocate to fill those seats. If the Senate confirms the nominees, the board could tilt Democratic, which would make it more likely to seek DeJoy’s ouster.
“My hope is the newly constituted Board will do the right thing and bring in a new, qualified Postmaster General,” Connolly said in a statement Wednesday in response to the news.
Jacob Bogage, Hannah Denham and Christopher Ingraham contributed to this report.