Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is expected to release a ten-year plan for the United States Postal Service on Tuesday, and his vision is not an expansive one. According to the Washington Post, the proposal will include longer first-class delivery windows, higher postage prices, and reduced post office hours — representing the largest cutback in services for the embattled agency in a generation.
With industry experts warning that service cuts could damage the Postal Service’s reputation among consumers, sending them toward private delivery companies, the Post reports that:
DeJoy is expected to emphasize the need for austerity to ensure more consistent delivery and rein in billions of dollars in financial losses, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations. The agency is weighed down by $188.4 billion in liabilities, and DeJoy told a House panel last month that he expects the agency will lose $160 billion over the next 10 years.
The plan, which he told the panel was eight months in the making, is meant to reset expectations for the Postal Service and its place in the express-shipping market. It’s couched in the notion that the historically high package volumes of the pandemic-era will persist, and reorients the agency around consumers who don’t use the mail service for letters, advertisements or business transactions as much as they once did.
DeJoy has previously discussed an “imminent” postage rate increase that could be as high as 9 percent and may be passed on directly to consumers. He also reportedly plans to expand the window for first-class mail by a day: The Postal Service currently aims to deliver local first-class mail in two days, and nonlocal mail in three-to-five days, goalposts that the agency frequently missed over the holiday season. DeJoy will reportedly cut post office hours as well. Over the summer, lawmakers accused the Trump ally of closing postal facilities and limiting hours early to undercut mail-in voting. As the Post notes, “most of DeJoy’s changes will not face regulatory road blocks” because of the independence of the agency and the support of the agency’s governing board.
Last week, more than 50 House Democrats called for President Biden to fire the board’s six sitting members, citing “gross mismanagement” and “self-inflicted” mail delays. Biden has already nominated two Democrats and a voting-rights advocate to fill three of four vacancies on the board of governors. If they are confirmed by the Senate, they would enjoy a slim 5-4 majority on the board, and could then remove DeJoy, who is a major Republican donor and has millions invested in USPS competitors.