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Trump Appointees Oversee The U.S. Postal Service. Will Biden Change That?


President Biden has a long list of positions in the federal government that he needs to fill, among them a handful of spots on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. The board oversees the post office and appoints the postmaster general, and a new board could replace the current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy - something many of his critics would like to see. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: It's been a rocky couple of months for the Postal Service - concerns and lawsuits over the post office's handling of mail-in ballots, Christmas cards and packages delivered in January. Congressman Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, says enough is enough.

BILL PASCRELL: It would seem to me that if we shrink the trust in the post office any more, there won't be post office left to trust. And so we need to do something that's strong. It's time to clean the house, and that's what I'm recommending.

NAYLOR: And by cleaning the house, Pascrell says everyone - the six current members of the Board of Governors and the Postal Service's top leadership, including Postmaster General Louis DeJoy - should be removed.

PASCRELL: Fire everybody at the top. They've done a lousy job.

NAYLOR: There are currently six men on the board of governors. Two are Democrats, one whose term technically has expired but who can continue for another year. All were appointed by President Trump, and the law allows them to be removed for cause. The president of the American Postal Workers Union, Mark Dimondstein, isn't calling for the entire board to be replaced. But at the very least, he says the open positions should be filled.

MARK DIMONDSTEIN: It should become a five-to-four Democratic Party majority, choices of the Democratic Party. And the chair should also be the party that's sitting in the White House, so the chair of the board should also change.

NAYLOR: The chair is currently Robert Duncan, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who sits on the board of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and of American Crossroads, another GOP-aligned group. Dimondstein says there are other reasons for changing the composition of the board.

DIMONDSTEIN: We don't have diversity on the board. It's all men. We have no women on the board. We have no African Americans on the board. So we don't have anybody from rural America, for example, on the board.

NAYLOR: Postmaster General DeJoy, who also gave millions to Republican candidates including former President Trump, has attempted to initiate cost-cutting reforms at the Postal Service. Many remain blocked by the courts after lawsuits charging they would interfere with the timely delivery of mail-in ballots. Philip Rubio, a history professor at North Carolina A&T and a former postal worker, says new postal board members could lead to a policy shift at the post office.

PHILIP RUBIO: President Biden could do a lot to change the direction of the Postal Service that Louis DeJoy, I think, did a lot to sabotage. President Biden could do a lot to take it in a positive direction.

NAYLOR: One change Dimondstein would like to see is an increase in the services post offices provide, including financial services.

DIMONDSTEIN: Paycheck cashing, ATMs, electronic bill paying, remittances - those kinds of things can all be done right now without any legislative actions. Just a policy decision and a good, strong board of governors will help us get there.

NAYLOR: Biden's plans regarding the post office remain unclear. Any nominations to the Board of Governors would have to be approved by the Senate, a process that could take months.

Brian Naylor, NPR News.


NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.