Lankford Addresses Postal Service Rumors during Hearing with Postmaster General
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing entitled, “Examining the Finances and Operations of the United States Postal Service During COVID-19 and Upcoming Elections.” During the hearing Lankford questioned newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy about his work to continue reforming the US Postal Service (USPS) to ensure long-term solvency. Lankford asked about the USPS’ work to halt reforms and mailbox removals to ensure the USPS can handle an increased capacity of mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election.
(00:01 – 00:28 ) Lankford: Mr. DeJoy, thank you for your service. From what I have heard so far today, apparently the Post Office never had any issues, there was never any delays, there was never any mail that was late, there were never any financial problems, there was never any challenge to mail-in votings until 65 days ago when you arrived, and then apparently all chaos has broken out in the Post Office in the last two months. But before that there seemed to be no complaint about the Post Office ever.
(01:03 – 01:26) Lankford: You’ve stepped into this role and have taken the, looks like the, work from the Inspector General, the work from the regulatory commission and have said, ‘Let’s start implementing some of these things,’ and now Congress seems to be shifting from beating up on postmasters for not doing work to now beating up on you for now doing the work. So I do want to say thanks for stepping up and taking the risk to actually take this on.
(01:30 – 04:28) Lankford: There was a series of stories that came out and a trending on social media that you were locking up the post boxes in Burbank to prevent people from voting. Were you locking up the boxes in Burbank to keep people from voting?
DeJoy: Senator, the stories that I have heard of my ability and the places I’m able to get to in the same day are just remarkable. So, no, I’m not locking up—I have nothing to do with collection boxes.
Lankford. So you mentioned earlier that it’s been 35,000 of the boxes that have been retired over the past 10 years. So apparently any of the blue boxes that have been retired over the past 10 years are your responsibility over the last 65 days. You had mentioned before about some of the blue boxes being retired. Are they still going to be retired between now and the election, or will they be retired in the future.
DeJoy: My commitment to the Committee and the leadership and the American is we’ve stopped. The day I put the statement out, we directed everybody to stop reducing postal hours, to stop bringing back collection boxes, stop shutting down machines, and that was basically what we did.
Lankford: So you’ve stopped that until after the election, will that pick back up after the election, because one of the issues that you brought up before was about the sorting machines. Some of these sorting machines are older. Some of the sorting machines are not needed anymore. Will that just stop forever. What I’m trying to figure out is are we still going to work on trying to build in efficiencies in the post office—this has been an issue for a long time—to try to get us back into balance.
DeJoy: Senator, thank you for the opportunity. Right now, the law, the legislation is that we deliver to 161 million addresses, six days a week. I’m committed to that. I believe that’s a strength of the postal service and that we be self-sustaining. Those are the two pieces of legislation that I’m working toward. We are not self-sustaining. We have a $10 billion shortfall and will, and over the next 10 years we’ll have a $245 billion shortfall. So we need to—and our management team and our board—there is a path that we are planning—with the help of some legislation—with some cost impacts, with some new revenue strategies, and some pricing freedom from the PRC [Postal Regulatory Commission] we believe we have a plan to do that. But one thing that’s not in the plan is not doing anything after the election.