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Live Coverage as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Testifies Before House Oversight and Reform Committee. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 24, 2020 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D-VA): -- service and capacity already made. It did not include an agenda to support election mail that demonstrates a commitment to helping the Postal Service fulfill its historic role in the upcoming election.

And lastly, the PMG is still not advocating for the additional funding for the Postal Service despite the fact that the Republican- controlled, Trump-appointed Board of Governors unanimously called for that package. Not a Democratic idea, a Republican-dominated board unanimously recommending it.

The recent operational and organizational changes Mr. DeJoy's made have resulted in delivery delays across the country, as the chairwoman just showed. And those aren't our datas, that's yours, Mr. Postmaster General.

These delays have real impacts on real lives with real consequences. Most devastatingly, they damage the Postal Service's credibility in a very brief time -- congratulations, Mr. DeJoy -- an esteemed institution that now is in doubt in the American public's mind.

I applaud my colleagues in the House for passing the Delivery for America Act bill because we need to act now. We need to reverse this. We need to reassure the American public that they will get their mail on time, and that their ballots will get there on time and be counted.

This is about the future of our democratic institutions. This is the future about the most important election in my lifetime. That's what's at stake today.

I yield back.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): I thank the --

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Madam Chair?

MALONEY: Yes?

COMER: Just like to make a point that you didn't notify our committee that Mr. Connolly, as ranking -- or as chairman of the Subcommittee, would be delivering opening remarks. That's another example of this rushed process.

But I would like to ask that our ranking member of Mr. Connolly's subcommittee also be allowed to deliver opening remarks?

MALONEY: Absolutely. The staff told me they reached out to you and your staff. It's general (ph) that the subcommittee that has the jurisdiction should speak on both sides. I have in my notes that Mr. Hice will be -- who is now the ranking member on the Subcommittee of Government Operations -- will also be giving an opening statement. And I was told that they did reach out.

In the future, I will personally call you myself --

COMER: Thank you.

MALONEY: -- and make sure it gets to you. I was told by staff that they talked to your staff, that they had reached out to you. If that did not get to you, then I apologize. I will -- I will personally call you every time. But it is usually the standard that we make an opening statement and the subcommittee with the jurisdiction makes an opening statement.

COMER: I agree, and I appreciate the chairwoman doing that. That's -- again, important why we need to be prepared and not rush things like we have this postal reform bill.

CONNOLLY: Madam Chairwoman?

MALONEY: Yes, Mr. Connolly?

CONNOLLY: If I can come to your defense, it has been your practice as chairwoman that when it is the jurisdiction of a subcommittee, you have always allowed the subcommittee chair and the ranking member to have opening statements, that's practice. It's not something you sprung on us today.

And I can think of at least four examples -- Mr. Raskin's one, Mr. Rouda's anther -- and their ranking members. So it's actually the practice of the committee under Chairwoman Maloney to do just that.

COMER: And Madam Chair if I may, I agree that it's practice. We just weren't notified and it wasn't on the agenda item that -- that we received. But we appreciate that and Mr. Hice, it's my understanding, is prepared to deliver an impromptu opening statement.

MALONEY: OK. First of all, I want to thank Mr. Connolly for pointing that out. And also pointing out the double standard that businesses such as the airlines and others are receiving federal aid in the HEROES package, in the COVID relief package. But the vital services from our post office that so many people depend on, a lifeline to Americans across America, they deserve to be funded too.

I now recognize the distinguished subcommittee chairman Mr. Hice for Government Operations for an opening statement. And you are recognized, Mr. Hice.

REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): Thank you, Madam Chair, I appreciate that. And yes, we were not notified of this but I'm happy to take a few moments.

Again, here we are, having a hearing after a vote. I think this is absolutely disgusting. Certainly, we have had many votes without bothering to have a hearing, but I don't ever recall having a vote to so-called fix something, and then have the hearing afterwards. This is unprecedented. And again, to me, I believe is an example of political malpractice on the side of the Democrats.

[10:35:00]

We are here to talk about the Postal Service. And Madam Chair, I'm glad you brought up the HEROES Act because in itself, in the HEROES Act, I believe, is the unveiling of what the Democrats are really trying to do. And that is themselves to fraudulently influence the upcoming election.

In the HEROES Act is a requirement for universal mail-in ballots. In the HEROES Act is a requirement that vote -- that states cannot be involved in requiring voter ID.

And so we're going to have tens of millions of ballots sent out all across the country to many people who perhaps are deceased, to people who have moved, to people -- who knows who they are? And states are not going to be able to have any voter ID if the Democrats have their way. And then we're going to have the mail -- the ballot harvesting take place?

This is what's -- this is what's at stake. And I agree with Chairman Connolly, saying that this is the most important election -- this is what is at stake. And if the Democrats have their way in this election, it will be filled with fraud. It will be filled with confusion. It will be filled with lawsuits.

Because that's what is in the HEROES Act to produce if the Democrats have their way, and thankfully that bill is not going anywhere, any further than the bill that was passed Saturday before the hearing.

Then we can talk about delays at the USPS. Well, we haven't even had hearings on the USPS since I believe it was April of 2019. And now all of a sudden, we're called in for an emergency over this whole thing. We had a briefing in April of this year -- not a hearing, it was a briefing -- and the purpose of that briefing was to discuss the delays at the Postal Service due to COVID-19.

And yes, there have been delays. And yes, there are thousands of USPS workers who are not showing up for work due to COVID-19. Are we surprised that there are any delays? Of course not. We had a briefing to discuss that just a couple of months ago. The postmaster general has nothing to do with COVID-19, has nothing to do with the economy (ph), nor does he have anything to do with thousands of his workers not showing up.

We also have cities that are rioting. Of course there is delays in many of those cities, be it Minneapolis or Portland or Chicago or L.A. or wherever it may be. The fact of the matter is, the bailout that passed on Saturday in the

House of Representatives is pointless. It refuses the opportunity to have any reforms. And so we have a Postal Service right now that has $14 billion cash on hand, another $10 billion available to them with the Treasury, and they can't even get access to the $10 billion because they have too much money, cash on hand.

And yet we pass a bill for another $25 billion and in that bill, we disallow them from making any changes. It doesn't matter how much money we keep throwing at the Postal Service if we don't allow for reform to take place, which is what is desperately needed.

So with that, I do look forward to this hearing going forward. I fully anticipate a lot of political theater from my friends on the opposite side of the aisle. I do anticipate the continued attempt to portray a conspiracy that does not exist when in fact it is their own party that I believe are fully committed, based upon the HEROES Act and other comments (ph), to influence this upcoming election using fraudulent methods.

And with that, Madam Chair, I will yield back and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to speak.

MALONEY: Thank you.

Now we will introduce our witnesses (INAUDIBLE) I now recognize Mark Walker -- I now recognize Mark Walker to introduce our first witness, who is a constituent of Congressman Walker's.

REP. MARK WALKER (R-NC): Thank you, Madam Chair Maloney and Ranking Member Comer.

It is my privilege to introduce Mr. Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general of the United States. Mr. DeJoy has earned the respect of both charitable and business communities.

Since its creation in 2005, the DeJoy Wos Family Foundation has positively impacted thousands of people -- Duke University, the Cone Health Center for Children, police foundations, just to name a few.

I was actually present when Mr. DeJoy was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Triad's Junior Achievement Business Leaders, the world's largest organization educating K to 12 students on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

[10:35:08]

Just this past week, I received -- in the mail -- the family contribution, the sponsorship of Family Services of the Piedmont, which serves 18,000 children and adults, many of those battling domestic violence issues.

Yet maybe the most impressive act by this family is the one established for students from Title I schools, the Scholars Program at Elon University. You see, I've had the opportunity to meet some of these students who come from some of our most impoverished areas. It's not something Louis flaunts, it's just something he does.

Throughout his professional career, Louis DeJoy has garnered a reputation as a genius in the logistical innovation and supply chain field. As the CEO of New Breed Logistics, he took a broken trucking company from New York to North Carolina and transformed it into a prominent U.S. provider in contract logistics, creating close to 9,000 jobs. Maybe that's why he was unanimously appointed to the position by the USPS bipartisan Board of Governors.

Mr. DeJoy has been on the job about two months, but he's being blamed for implementing reforms Congress has passed. For example, back in 2006, it wasn't Mr. DeJoy who passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, it was actually Congress. The leading sponsor on this bill? Well, he's the one with the biggest picture in the room, former chair of this committee Henry Waxman.

Today, Mr. DeJoy will be viciously attacked with prepackaged questions and false accusations, one member even suggesting impeachment. That's original.

How sad is it when the cancel culture has reached the halls of Congress? The man sitting before this committee today is not who the Democrats have villainized him to be. He's here today because he supported President Trump. And with this Congress, that makes you a target.

Over the past month, the DeJoys have endured protests outside his home with hundreds of people blocking streets and frightening their neighbors. Sadly, in this day and age, an industry leader with a passion for service can be persecuted in the court of public opinion for his apparent political affiliation.

As the circus unfolds today, remember that Louis DeJoy is a community- minded philanthropist, an industry-leading businessman and, most importantly, a man with a good heart doing his best to serve his country.

Mr. DeJoy, I want to commend you for being here today. Many of your accusers didn't extend the same courtesy. But unlike the senator from Delaware, let's hope they at least know how to mute themselves.

Thank you, Madam Chair. I yield back.

MALONEY: Thank you.

Our second witness is Robert Duncan, who is the chairman of the Postal Service's Board of Governors. He was appointed to the Board of Governors by President Donald Trump in August of 2018, and his term expires in December of 2025.

Please stand and raise your right hands. Do you swear, affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

ROBERT DUNCAN, CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE BOARD OF GOVERNORS: I do.

MALONEY: Let the record show that the witnesses affirmed this in the affirmative.

Without objection, your written statements will be part of the record.

With that, Mr. DeJoy, you are now recognized for your testimony.

LOUIS DEJOY, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE: (INAUDIBLE) Good morning, Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and members of the committee. I am proud to be with you today on behalf of the 630,000 dedicated women and men of the United States Postal Service.

On June 15, I became America's 75th postmaster general. Since that time, for a variety of reasons, there has been a great deal of attention to the Postal Service by our elected officials, the media, and the American people.

I want to begin by assuring this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation's ballots securely and on time. This sacred duty is my number one priority between now and Election Day.

To be clear, we will do everything we can to handle and deliver election mail in a manner consistent with the proven processes and procedures that we have relied upon for years. Nevertheless, I encourage all Americans who choose to vote by mail to request their ballots early and to vote early as a common-sense best practice.

As part of this conversation, there are many inaccuracies about my actions that I wish to again correct. First, I did not direct the removal of blue collection boxes or the removal of mail processing equipment. Second, I did not direct the cutback on hours at any of our post offices. And finally, I did not direct the elimination of any cutback in overtime.

[10:45:16]

I did, however, suspend these practices to remove any misperceptions about our commitment to delivering the nation's election mail. Any further assertions by the media or elected officials is furthering a false narrative to the American people.

Now, let me describe the two actions I have taken in 70 days, since my appointment. I came to the Postal Service with decades of experience in solving large and complex logistical problems. I plan to use this experience to help lead the operating change required for the Postal Service to grow and embark on a path of sustainability.

On the day of my swearing-in, the Postal Service inspector general issued an astonishing report about the schedule delays in Postal Service transportation and a substantial cost associated with our weaknesses in this fundamental operating principle.

Upon review, I directed the Postal Service Operations team to develop and execute on a plan to improve our adherence to the transportation schedule of our over 40,000 trips a day.

We have accomplished this goal, as our on-time departures are approaching 98 percent and wasteful extra trips are down by over 70 percent. While we have had temporary service decline, which should not have happened, we are fixing this. In fact, last week, service improved across all major mail and package categories and I am laser- focused on improving service for the American public.

The second of two changes I made as postmaster general is installing a new organizational reporting structure to better align talent and resources to instill greater accountability for performance and to focus the organization on service and growth.

These two changes -- creating our new on-time transportation network and designing an engaged, functional organizational structure -- will be the catalyst for significant improvements in cost, performance and growth that I planned for this vital American institution.

Madam Chairwoman, the women and men of the Postal Service have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to our mission of service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In every community in America, we continue to work to keep our employees and customers safe as we fulfill our essential role in delivering the medications, benefit checks and financial statements the public depends upon.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a public outpouring of support for our postal employees as they perform their essential service throughout the nation. This is a well deserved testament to their dedication.

Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, I hope we can agree that the financial state of the Postal Service is unacceptable and needs to be fixed. I look forward to working with you and this committee and our stakeholders to restore the financial health of the United States Postal Service, and to improve the way we serve the American public.

This concludes my remarks, and I welcome any questions that you and the committee may have. Thank you.

MALONEY: Thank you very much for your testimony.

And we will now recognize Chairman Duncan. You are now recognized for your testimony. And he will be appearing remote. Chairman Duncan, you are now recognized.

DUNCAN: Thank you. Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to speak today. My name is Mike Duncan. And for the past two years, I've had the honor of serving as the chairman of the United States Postal Board of Governors.

Throughout my life, I've looked for ways to help and strengthen and support institutions that are important to American communities. That's why I spent five years on the Tennessee Valley Authority board, why I serve on Alice Lloyd College, why I've served on numerous boards and commissions of Kentucky and at the federal level. When I accepted this position, I did so because of my admiration for

the United States Postal Service and its public service mission. I spent my life in rural Appalachia, and I know how important the Postal Service is to communities like mine. I also know the Postal Service provides important jobs to more than 630,000 Americans, which at one time included my own grandfather, who delivered mail by horseback in East Tennessee.

Since I've joined the board, I've made it a point to get on the road, to visit postal facilities, to meet workers, speak directly with our customers, union members, union leaders. These conversations have only deepened my understanding for and awe of the importance of the Postal Service.

[10:50:02]

Serving on the Board of Governors of this institution is a significant responsibility. The governors by statute represent the public interest. That means I'll always remember its special role in our nation, and it means I can never forget the challenges that are putting us at risk.

These challenges should come as no surprise to the members of this body. On two occasions, I've sent you the Postal Service's annual report to Congress. In each of those communications, I wrote that, quote, "The Postal Service's business model is broken and will only produce widening losses in the coming years absent dramatic change."

Last fall, Postmaster General Megan Brennan notified the board of her impending retirement. And in response, the board immediately recognized that we would be faced with the most important decision we would make as governors: the selection of a new postmaster general.

The board agreed that the Postal Service would benefit from a transformational leader, one who could help us build upon the inherent strengths and confront its longstanding challenges. The Postal Service is an amazing institution, and we can do a lot to make it better.

But we're unable to fix our broken business model or control our own processing (ph) without the help of Congress and the Postal Regulatory Commission. What we can do is increase our efficiency and cut down on unnecessary expenses. We can also focus on marketability and modernization while reducing some expenses. Business as usual is not an option.

It's for these reasons that after an organized, deliberate and thorough search process, the board selected Louis DeJoy to serve as our 75th postmaster general of the United States. He's the fifth postmaster general since 1971 to join the institution from the private sector, and we believe the private sector experience that he has will be an asset, identifying ways to improve the Postal Service.

In addition, Mr. DeJoy has decades of experience in improving and managing sophisticated logistic chains, a Fortune 100 company that (ph) is (ph) a major contractor for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 25 years. He has a deep knowledge about the institution and how it can be strengthened.

Like the postmaster general, the board has confidence in the Postal Service's ability to perform for the American people in this election season.

Five years from now, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the American Postal Service. Throughout our nation's history, this institution has delivered for the American people. Now, we have a sacred responsibility to preserve, defend and strengthen this organization for generations to come. Thank you for your time, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to your questions. Thank you.

MALONEY: Thank you for your testimony.

I now recognize myself for questioning.

Mr. DeJoy, we have all been flooded with concerns and complaints from our constituents about the delay in the mail. And in the vote on my bill, Delivering for America, on Saturday, 26 Republicans voted with us, and they expressed the same concerns.

People depend on their mail for their medications, for business, for keeping in touch with their families. It's critically important. And we've seen headlines across this nation, from many, many states, headlines, major news from our states about the delay in the mail. It's been said, it's a major institution in our country. People depend on it.

And over the weekend, we obtained this internal document. And it is dated less than two weeks ago, on August 12th. And it's entitled, "Service Performance Measurement for the PMG postmaster general briefing."

Now, your office already confirmed to my office that this document is authentic. So let's go through a little bit of it now. This document clearly shows major degradations across the board beginning in July, when you started your changes.

Here is the document for first-class mail. And overall, it is down an astonishing 8.1 percent from the baseline before your changes for the past two months, beginning in July. Now, the second one, the next slide is the marketing mail. And that is down a stunning 8.42 percent. Now, the next -- and it's on the wall where you can see it better -- the next, periodicals. And that is down almost 10 percent, down 9.57 percent.

[10:55:30]

So Mr. DeJoy, you and your aides have repeatedly downplayed these delays -- you just downplayed it in your testimony. But this is just a disaster for the people who need their mail, don't you agree?

DEJOY: (INAUDIBLE)

MALONEY: Would you turn on your mike? We can't hear you, mm-hmm. Thank you.

DEJOY: We are very concerned with the deterioration in service, and are working very diligently. In fact, we're seeing a big recovery this week and in fact, that report, oddly, I requested that report be put together. Oddly enough, we didn't have measurement briefings at an executive level like this before my arrival, where the whole executive team was involved in looking at what the underlying circumstances were.

And we're focused on fixing it. We've seen a nice -- we're starting to see a nice recovery and we will have it back to -- my goal is to get it, you know, to higher (ph) -- though we were not meeting metrics before, with this change, this fundamental change, we have a real good shot of getting to these stated metrics that we are supposedly, you know, governed by.

MALONEY: Well, you just testified that you've been on the job 70 days.

DEJOY: Mm-hmm.

MALONEY: So this is essentially your report card for that period of time. 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.

DEJOY: That's an unfair accusation.

MALONEY: When -- may I continue? When you testified on Friday, senators asked you over and over about the status of these delays. They also asked you to produce analysis about the negative impacts of your changes. It would have been easy to mention to the senators that this document existed.

You could have said, "As a matter of fact, Senator, I just received a detailed briefing, and unfortunately the data shows major delays in nearly all categories." But you didn't do that, you dismissed these nationwide delays as, quote "a dip." And you refused to turn over any analysis.

So my question is, why didn't you disclose this document and any analysis to the Senate when you had it and they were asking for it?

DEJOY: They asked me for it on Friday. They asked me for an analysis on my decision, a -- I -- I --

MALONEY: Of the delays, the delays. I watched the testimony, they wanted analysis, why are these -- all these delays.

DEJOY: Well, there's a lot of reasons for delays besides just my -- the action that I took to run your trucks on time. There are other reasons for the delays in the nation.

MALONEY: Well, I would say running trucks on time would probably increase delivery. But for some reason, it backed it up, five to six days --

DEJOY: I wouldn't know.

MALONEY: -- into the district that I represent, so reported.

But Mr. DeJoy, on August 14th, this committee sent you a 10-page letter, along with the chairs and ranking members of three other committees, and we asked you to produce all communications -- and I'm quoting from the letter -- "all communications, evaluations, assessments or reports regarding mail left behind or delayed as a result of these new policies that you instituted," end quote.

We asked for these documents by Friday. And on Friday night, you did produce some documents to us, but you did not produce this one. And so my question is, why did you leave this important internal document from the postal professionals that was delivered to you and briefed to you two days before the Senate hearing? Why did you leave it out?

DEJOY: I'm not familiar with the request in total or how we supported it. I'm sure the staff answered the questions as they were asked.

[11:00:08]