April 13, 2021

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Biden expected to diversify USPS board, cement Democrats’ oversight with appointments – NBC News

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President Joe Biden is expected to fill three of the remaining seats on the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors, positions that have immediate oversight of the postmaster general and the federal agency that delivers the country’s mail.

Biden intends to appoint Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds to the three seats that remain open and cement Democratic oversight of the agency, according to two sources familiar with the president’s thinking. The selections would come after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the agency received criticism for late delivery and accusations of election mail interference.

The expected appointments, which would be two men of color (Stroman and Hajjar) and a woman (McReynolds), would greatly diversify the board.

The current board is made up of six white men, and all have limited experience with the Postal Service. In contrast, Stroman is a former deputy postmaster general, and Hajjar is the former general counsel for American Postal Workers Union. McReynolds was the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition and former director of elections for Denver.

“Congress intended us to have a full board,” said Board Chairman Ron Bloom during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, “and so I think an organization functions best when it has the full diversity of views that comes from a full group.”

DeJoy said during his testimony on Wednesday that he also welcomed new board members and the diversity of opinions they would bring.

Both men were responding to questions from Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who pointed out the lack of diversity on the board.

Amber McReynolds, director of elections for the City and County of Denver, talks during a media tour of the Denver Elections Division headquarters on Oct. 28, 2016, in Denver.David Zalubowski / AP file

Biden has faced a fair amount of political pressure to make quick appointments and push the Postal Service to address delivery delays and the perceived politicization of the agency under the Trump administration.

More than 70 House Democrats sent a letter to Biden last week asking him to quickly fill the vacant seats and create a Democratic majority on the board. That board could then decide whether to push out DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser close to former President Donald Trump who Democrats consider to be a partisan.

“Filling the vacant seats on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors with strong, passionate advocates for the institution will allow it to function in a nonpartisan manner, and will allow the Board to seriously consider whether the current Postmaster General is suitable to continue in his role,” the Democrats wrote.

The White House declined to comment.

Former Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman.USPS

After leaving the Postal Service as deputy postmaster general just prior to DeJoy’s appointment, Stroman became a noted critic of the new postmaster general as well as an often-cited expert about changes DeJoy appeared to be making.

“The postmaster general specifically said, ‘Leave mail behind.’ That’s not an unintended consequence. That is a deliberate delay of the mail,” Stroman said on MSNBC in August last year, referring to an operations change DeJoy made last year that has since been paused.

DeJoy appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday along with Bloom to discuss proposed legislation that would dissolve a mandate that required the Postal Service prepay retirement benefits decades in advance and merge its retirement health benefits with Medicare.

Members of Congress also questioned DeJoy about his intention to make structural and strategic changes to the agency’s mail-delivery services.

The specifics of DeJoy’s plans to change the Postal Service have not been released, though he said during Wednesday’s committee hearing that he expects to share them by the end of March.

United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speaks during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Feb. 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill.Jim Watson / Pool via Getty Images

NBC News previously reported that the postmaster general’s strategic plan could lead to higher postage rates and the elimination of the first-class tier of mail. Instead, the agency would lump the category of mail — which includes letters, magazines, catalogs among others — into the same three- to five-day window as nonlocal mail.

The plan is supported by the current board of governors, who appointed DeJoy and were all handpicked by Trump. All are businessmen with limited Postal Service experience.

“We need a strong board that reflects the will of the people,” American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein, who also testified Wednesday, said in a statement. “We need leaders who will support prompt, reliable and efficient service, and public servants who understand that this is the United States Postal ‘Service’ and not the United States Postal ‘Business.’”

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