The U.S. Postal Service has been plagued by continuous delivery delays for nearly a year now, and many people are hitting a breaking point with their frustration over it. There are currently reports of people getting second notices on missing packages before receiving the first one, adjusting prescription requests to account for delays, and holiday packages still being in transit. As a result, dozens of Democratic senators are demanding answers from the Postmaster General himself.
In a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy last week, 30 senators pointed out that nationwide on-time delivery is currently 64% for First-Class Mail and 45% for periodicals like magazines and newspapers. They also wrote that delays are even worse in many areas of the country. The USPS has not yet released its on-time scores for the start of 2021, but at the end of 2020, First-Class Mail was only being delivered by the intended date 38% of the time, reports The Washington Post.
“Our constituents have experienced missed paychecks and court notices, delayed critical prescriptions, an inability to reach small business customers and suppliers, lost rent payments and delayed credit card payments resulting in late fees, breakdowns in service to their communities, late personal mail such as holiday packages, and more,” reads the letter. “Reportedly, mail delivery has not yet recovered after the peak season, with constituents continuing to experience delays despite the tireless efforts of postal workers.”
DeJoy is developing a 10-year strategic plan to address these problems, reports NPR. The House Oversight Committee will discuss the proposal sometime today, but early versions of the plan are already drawing criticism from congressional Democrats, as well as some of the USPS’ biggest customers. While DeJoy has not discussed the details of the plan publicly, The Washington Post says it includes slowing the delivery time of some local first-class mail and up to a 9% jump in postage rates that would be compounded annually.
“This work is not only needed, it is long overdue. As we finalize our plan, we look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks. Until we have the additional discussions...and the plan is finalized, it would not be appropriate to provide such details,” DeJoy said in a statement.
But public and professional faith in how DeJoy — a former logistics executive and major Republican donor — runs the USPS has been waning since he took the helm in mid-June last year. By late August, DeJoy was standing before Congress facing questions from lawmakers over mail-delivery delays that began shortly after he took the position. DeJoy came under intense scrutiny again when sweeping policy changes at the Postal Service led some to question whether it was linked to former President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. DeJoy denied that any changes to the USPS were linked to the November elections.
Congressional Democrats are also asking that President Joe Biden overhaul the Postal Service’s leadership. There are currently four open seats on the nine-member board of governors, and no more than five members of the board may belong to the same political party. If Biden filled those empty seats with Democrats, it would create a majority with the power to unseat DeJoy if put to a vote. As president, Biden does not have the power to directly fire DeJoy.
On Monday, the White House released a statement saying that Biden was focused on filling board vacancies with 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.”