U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is sworn in Monday to testify before a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns at the Postal Service ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Pool Photo by Tom Brenner/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy again faced tough questions on Monday from Democratic lawmakers in Congress and denied accusations that cost-cutting measures he ordered were intended to hamper mail-in voting.
DeJoy, who faced a similar grilling in the Senate on Friday, appeared for Monday's hearing before the House oversight committee amid concerns that changes at the U.S. Postal Service were made to give President Donald Trump a political advantage for the Nov. 3 election.
House lawmakers wanted to hear about the changes ordered by DeJoy, who was once a major donor for Trump, after he assumed his post in June.
Some Democrats asked whether the changes, which DeJoy said are now delayed until after the election, were designed to give Trump a boost by suppressing ballots in the mail.
The 2020 presidential election is expected to see a record number of mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in her opening statement that DeJoy may be attempting to "hobble mail-in voting" and asked him about significant slowdowns in mail delivery that have occurred under his watch.
"If any other CEO had this kind of plummeting record in his first two months on the job, I can't imagine why he would be kept on," she said.
DeJoy replied, "That's an unfair accusation."
The postmaster general defended his decisions to remove hundreds of mail-sorting machines, eliminate "excessive" mail trips and cut back on overtime paid to postal workers.
"There are a lot of things that are impacting our service, and this is one of them on the front end ... we should have cleared it up quicker," DeJoy answered. "It will recover quite rapidly going forward."
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., asked DeJoy if he was trying to lend credibility to Trump's repeated dismissals of mail-in balloting.
"Do your mail delays fit Trump's campaign goals of hurting the post office, as stated in his tweets? Are your mail delays implicit campaign contributions?" Cooper asked.
Insisting the changes were made to control costs, DeJoy answered, "Am I the only one in this room that understands that we have a $10 billion a year loss?"
Under questioning from the Republican-led Senate homeland security committee on Friday, DeJoy sought to reassure lawmakers and the public that ballots mailed close to the election will be counted. He denied accusations that he's trying to aid Trump's re-election campaign.
"I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation's election mail securely and on time," he said.
"This sacred duty is my number one priority between now and election day."
The House passed a bill Saturday to block the USPS changes ordered by DeJoy and appropriate $25 billion in funding.
Robert Duncan, chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, joined DeJoy in Monday's appearance before the House panel and defended his appointment, citing the need to make "dramatic changes" at the Postal Service.
"Mr. DeJoy was selected to be that transformational leader, who can help strengthen the Postal Service for the long term," he said in his opening statement.