DCR Politics: Postal Service will prioritize ballots over other mail, postmaster general testifies.

Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves the postal service, Testimony and Mail- In Ballots.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers on Friday that ensuring the safe and timely delivery of election mail was his “sacred duty,” disputing accusations his controversial cost cutting agenda was politically motivated even as he reiterated his intention to execute it after the November election.

In his sworn testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, DeJoy said postal workers would continue to prioritize election mail ahead of other first-class mailings.

“I’d like to emphasize there has been no changes of any policies in regard to election mail for the 2020 election,” DeJoy said, adding later that the agency would deploy “processes and procedures to advance the election mail, in some cases ahead of first-class mail.”

But he still plans to press forward with a larger agency overhaul after the election, according to several people who are familiar with the plans, reported by The Washington Post. This would move the Postal Service to geography-based pricing, lower mail delivery standards and increase prices.

Despite his assurances, Democrats were skeptical.

DeJoy has “wreaked havoc on veterans, seniors, rural communities and people across our country,” said Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, and owed the public an apology.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (Del.), the dean of postal policy among Senate Democrats, criticized the agency’s lack of transparency. “With all due respect to our postmaster,” he said, “I reached out to you when you were initially selected. … I tried to reach you again and again for weeks.” They spoke for the first time on Wednesday, Carper said.

Tensions around the agency have been building up for weeks, after President Trump announced he would block its funding to impede its ability to process ballots. On Tuesday, DeJoy retreated from the cutbacks, which included prohibitions on overtime and extra mail delivery trips and the removal of hundreds of mail sorters and public collection boxes, after the public backlash. “We all feel bad about what the dip in our service level has been,” he said Friday.

Some of those changes won’t be reversed. For example, any mailbox or sorter that’s already been removed will not be reinstalled. “There’s no intention to do that. They’re not needed, sir,” DeJoy told Peters of the sorters.

DeJoy said his prohibition on extra mail delivery trips would remain in place.

DeJoy also disputed that he curtailed overtime, one of the more contentious policy changes. “We never eliminated overtime,” he testified. “It has not been curtailed by me or the leadership team.”

DeJoy’s remarks Friday sent mixed responses from committee members, falling along party lines. Republicans, including the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-W.I), called DeJoy’s cost cutting zeal “commendable” and alleged, without evidence, that constituent complaints about mail delays which have poured into House and Senate lawmakers’ offices for weeks were fabricated. Sen. Mike Enzi (R.Wy.) even joked that he was surprised to learn DeJoy did not deliver every piece of mail himself and was therefore not personally responsible for delays.

Democrats assailed DeJoy for policies that degraded service which include the overtime and delivery cuts without saving a significant amount of money.

“These are real concerns I’m hearing,” Peters said. “These are not manufactured. These are people who are coming forward talking about delays, talking about medicine this is not available for them. … This is why we’re standing up and making sure the Postal Service does what they have done [in the past]” to guarantee good service.

DeJoy and Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, are set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday in what will probably be an even less hospitable environment. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D.N.Y.), chair of the House panel, called for the Postal Service’s inspector general to investigate DeJoy’s cost-cutting maneuvers and potential financial conflicts of interests. That inquiry is ongoing. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D. Va.), chairman of the subcommittee responsible for postal oversight, has called for DeJoy’s removal, along with 90 other House Democrats.

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