May 7, 2020
President Donald Trump has tapped a key ally and GOP fundraiser to become the next postmaster general of the United States, a position that will oversee the federal agency that Trump has previously referred to as "a joke."
Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman who is leading the fundraising effort for the Republican convention in Charlotte this summer, is a longtime Trump donor. DeJoy has been tapped to replace outgoing Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, an Obama appointee who came into the position in 2015. Brennan's retirement from her five-year commitment had been delayed until a successor could be named, and DeJoy is expected to begin in the role on June 15.
DeJoy's appointment comes at one of the most volatile moments in the 245-year history of the USPS. DeJoy was formerly the chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, a shipping company in Greensboro, N.C. that was one of the Postal Service's many contractors.
USPS board chairman, Robert Duncan, said in a statement, "Louis DeJoy understands the critical public service role of the United States Postal Service, and the urgent need to strengthen it for future generations."
But DeJoy will have to deal with the pressure Trump has put on the post office in recent years. The President has said that the USPS must quadruple its parcel rates to compete with Amazon; many in Washington suggest that Trump's frustrations with the issue stem from his dislike of Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon and The Washington Post.
Trump had previously told reporters that the Postal Service must raise prices or risk being shut out of any coronavirus relief bill, recently saying, "If [the USPS doesn't] raise the price I'm not signing anything, so they'll raise the price so that they become maybe even profitable, but so they lose much less money, OK? And if they don't do it, I'm not signing anything."
Experts warn that the Post Office faces severe liquidity challenges in 2020 that could force it to close operations for the first time in American history. Between 2007 and 2016, the agency's losses totaled $62.4 billion, a figure made worse by its status as the only federal agency forced to pre-fund healthcare benefits for retirees.
Additionally, the agency has been plagued with stubborn fixed costs, declining revenue, incredibly high deficits, and a particularly hard-hit reality for its 630,000 employees during the coronavirus. The service hasn't been tax-subsidized for decades; beginning in 1970 with the Nixon-led Postal Reorganization Act, it became self-sustaining, meaning all of its money essentially comes from selling stamps and sending mail.
There is no clear, consensus fix in Congress. The recently-formed bipartisan Postal Preservation Caucus is pleading with Hill leadership and the White House to consider an aid package akin to the historically-large sum Congress approved for the airline industry. The group recently wrote in a letter, "This is a national emergency. The negative effects of this crisis will be borne hardest by those in rural areas — where millions of Americans are currently sheltering in place and relying on the Postal Service to deliver essential supplies."