The postmaster says he is waging a battle against “the political bureaucracy” that defends the status quo.

The postmaster says he is waging a battle against “the political bureaucracy” that defends the status quo. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In spending bill, House Republicans are ‘deeply concerned’ with DeJoy’s USPS reform plans

While typically sympathetic to the postmaster general, Republicans are suggesting he chart a different course.

House Republicans, typically an ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, are moving legislation that asks the U.S. Postal Service to reverse course on some key elements of its efforts to overhaul its operations. 

The lawmakers voiced their concerns in a report on the fiscal 2024 Financial Services and General Government spending bill, which the House Appropriations Committee approved on Thursday. The language added to the growing chorus of discontent on Capitol Hill with DeJoy’s signature Delivering for America plan and continued the pressure he is facing to change course. 

“The committee is deeply concerned about the potential negative impacts on mail service to the American people, customer satisfaction, and cost overruns potentially undermining the goals outlined in the DFA plan,” the Republican appropriators wrote in the report, alluding to USPS’ plans to consolidate mail processing operations at fewer facilities around the country. They added they were “concerned with the USPS’ aggressive approach to consolidating processing and distribution centers into local processing centers and the notification and justification provided to customers and postal workers.”

Already, DeJoy has agreed to pause consolidation efforts at dozens of processing facilities until at least Jan. 1, 2025. He has noted his efforts to win over members of Congress have so far been unsuccessful, but vowed to continue to convince them that his vision is the only viable path forward for the Postal Service. 

For now, however, he is continuing to face bipartisan pushback. 

“The committee remains concerned that these consolidations have contributed to reduced services and harmed postal performance,” the lawmakers. They set goalposts for USPS, saying it should “halt any realignment, consolidation, or partial consolidation of processing or logistics facilities” that service areas seeing less than 93% of mail slated for two-day delivery meeting that standard or 90.3% for mail scheduled for three-to-five day delivery. 

On a national basis in the current fiscal quarter, USPS is currently delivering just 86% and around 71% of mail in those categories on time, respectively. 

DeJoy defended his 10-year plan to put USPS on a viable path last week at the National Postal Forum, saying his reforms are the only way to dig out of the financial hole the agency has operated in for nearly two decades. 

“The future we seek has simple goals: evolve, serve, and create long-term viability,” DeJoy said. “However, this undertaking is of historic proportion. Our organization has been devastated, rendered inoperable and was on a terrible path which has not yet been fully solved for. And we continue to hold the plunge and raise ourselves up as we are satisfying our extraordinary daily demands and overcome the problems we face in an environment that is not accepting to change.”

The postmaster said he is waging a battle against “the political bureaucracy” that defends the status quo. He has acknowledged some changes not been rolled out successfully, but said USPS is learning about and fixing those problems. DeJoy called the agency’s 400 “dilapidated processing centers and the 19,000 post offices and other facilities where letter carriers pick up the mail each day a “sacred cow” unworthy of that title. 

The Postal Service’s network as currently oriented is illogical, he said, and “it must be dramatically and urgently changed.” 

While the language in the Appropriations Committee’s report is stark, it must be reconciled with the document its counterpart in the Senate produces. Even if included in a final version, the verbiage amounts only to a recommendation and does not carry the force of law. 

For now, many lawmakers and stakeholders across the postal community are imploring the Postal Regulatory Commission to issue an “advisory opinion” on the totality of DeJoy’s DFA plan. PRC has often clashed with DeJoy and most recently pushed back on his rate increase strategy, saying postal management should exercise more discretion before continuing with its approach that “may be unprecedented in the history of the Postal Service.” 

Large-scale mailers and others that interact with the Postal Service regularly are hopeful an advisory opinion—while also not capable of issuing mandates—would provide a third-party assessment of the agency’s plans, evaluate its assumptions and potentially offer additional fodder to motivate either the USPS board of governors or Congress to intervene.