Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Wednesday that recent postal delays were "unacceptable" and suggested officially slowing first-class mail to accommodate the U.S. Postal Service's difficulties making on-time deliveries.
DeJoy appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to answer lawmakers' questions on how to put the USPS on a better financial footing. The service came under scrutiny in the fall after DeJoy ordered certain service cuts that some said were pursued under the Trump administration to limit voting.
Mail delivery times became unreliable in 2020 amid an increased use due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a greater use of mail-in voting for the presidential election.
"Too many Americans were left waiting for weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages," DeJoy told lawmakers. "This is unacceptable, and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of all delays."
To account for those delays and manage costs, DeJoy said the USPS may need to reduce the amount of mail transported by plane, thereby increasing the amount of time it may take for some mail to be delivered.
"If we, in fact, get the relief that we need in terms of time, we will put more mail on the ground," he said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., took issue with DeJoy's desire to cut back on the amount of two-day mail shipped in the country.
"It sounds like your solution to the problems we've identified is just surrender," Raskin said. "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."
DeJoy told the panel the USPS is losing some $10 billion a year in what he described as a "death spiral." Part of the blame for the large losses is a change in 2006 requiring the USPS to pre-fund about $120 billion in retiree healthcare benefits.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., suggested that retired postal workers be integrated into Medicare, instead, saving an estimated $10 billion over 10 years, according to a memo issued by the committee in February 2020.