Biden Looks to Shake Up Postal Service Leadership With New Nominees
If confirmed, new nominees would give White House-backed members a majority on the postal governing board.
President Biden on Friday nominated two new individuals to sit on the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board, potentially giving the administration much greater influence over the agency.
If confirmed, Dan Tangherlini and Derek Kan, Biden’s nominees, would ensure the president's picks make up the majority of the board’s nine Senate-confirmed members. They would replace Ron Bloom, the board’s current chairman, and John Barger, both of whom are allies of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Both Bloom and Barger’s terms are soon expiring and Biden opted not to reappoint them.
Tangherlini is a former Obama administration official, having led the General Services Administration and served as a senior official at the Treasury Department. Kan previously served as an aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and later as a President Obama appointee to the Amtrak board and a President Trump appointee to Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget.
Biden has nominated and the Senate confirmed three members of the postal board, who have voiced their significant concerns with DeJoy’s 10-year-plan that includes slowing down mail delivery while raising prices at unusually high rates. Many advocacy groups and congressional Democrats have called on Biden to remove DeJoy from his post, but that had not previously been possible as he maintained universal support among the Trump-appointed members of the board. Only USPS’ board of governors can remove a postmaster general.
Dave Partenhemier, a USPS spokesman, thanked Bloom and Barger for their leadership and for contributing to the development of DeJoy's 10-year plan. He also welcomed the new nominees.
“The Postal Service congratulates Derek Kan and Dan Tangherlini on their nominations by the president to serve as governors on the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service," Partenheimer said. "We wish them well as they proceed through the U.S. Senate confirmation process."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday criticized DeJoy and praised the White House's nominees as "experienced public servants," but declined to suggest outright that they should remove the postmaster general.
"It’s up to the board to make a determination about leadership, but we have continued concerns about the postmaster general’s leadership," Psaki said.
It remains unclear if the board would be willing to take such a drastic step, or how Tangherlini and Kan, in particular, will respond to DeJoy’s initiatives. Still, the move won immediate praise from some of DeJoy’s biggest detractors.
“I am tickled pink that two DeJoy enablers have been replaced and thank President Biden for his leadership,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee panel with oversight of the Postal Service. “This action is a good thing for the Postal Service and, most importantly, a great thing for the American people.”
Porter McConnell, who leads the Save the Post Office Coalition and is Mitch McConnell’s daughter, also applauded Biden’s action.
"President Biden has listened to the millions of people across the nation demanding a return to the quiet competence of the post office before Louis DeJoy and his friend Ron Bloom took a wrecking ball to it,” Porter McConnell said. “Ron Bloom has no place in the USPS's future, and we are glad to see his tenure in the past."
Biden opted to replace Barger, a Republican, with Kan, who has historically aligned with Republicans. Federal statute requires no more than five members of the board be of the same party, but Biden likely could have still replaced Barger with another Democrat as one of his previous nominees, Amber McReynolds, is a registered independent. If Tangherlini and Kan are both confirmed, the makeup of the board will remain four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent.