Biden seeks to replace 2 Trump picks on USPS Board of Governors

President Joe Biden is naming two new nominees to serve on the Postal Service Board of Governors, replacing former President Donald Trump’s picks to help lead the agency.

Biden on Friday submitted to the Senate his latest nominees to serve on the board: former head of the General Services Administration Dan Tangherlini and Derek Kan, a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Biden’s nominees, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace USPS Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom and John Barger, a member of the board since August 2019.

If confirmed, Biden’s nominees would not change the political composition of the board, and would give Postmaster General Louis DeJoy an opportunity to remain on the job.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday it’s up to the board whether to keep DeJoy as postmaster general.

“It’s to the board to make a determination about leadership, but we have continued concerns about the postmaster general’s leadership,” Psaki said.

The board currently has four Democrats, four Republicans, and one independent. The board consists of up to nine governors appointed by the president. Each nomination requires Senate confirmation and no more than five governors may come from the same party.

The postmaster general serves at the pleasure of the USPS board for an indefinite term.

USPS in a statement congratulated Tangherlini and Kan on their nominations, and said the agency will “wish them well as they proceed through the United States Senate confirmation process.”

USPS also thanked Bloom and Barger for their service on the board.

“We are grateful for their contributions to the development of the Postal Service’s Delivering for America 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence, and look forward to continuing to work with them as they serve out their terms,” the agency said.

Biden’s decision to replace Bloom and Barger earned him praise from top congressional Democrats, who maintain a careful working relationship with DeJoy, but remain frustrated with the agency’s recent decisions to raise prices on mail products and implement a new service standard that slows the delivery of nearly 40% of first-class mail.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Friday that Tangherlini’s public service experience “makes him well-suited to help get the Postal Service back on track.

“Under Postmaster General DeJoy, the Postal Service lost focus on its core mission — to serve the American people by delivering the mail on-time at an affordable rate,” Maloney said. “It is my hope that Mr. Tangherlini, along with the rest of the Board of Governors, will begin to hold the Postmaster General accountable for the damage that has been done to the Postal Service’s operations and credibility.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the government operation subcommittee, said he supported Biden’s decision to replace Bloom and Barger.

“This action is a good thing for the Postal Service and, most importantly, a great thing for the American people,” Connolly said.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) earlier this month also asked Biden to replace Bloom, rather than nominate him for a full term, citing Bloom’s support of DeJoy and persistent mail delays.

Porter McConnell, campaign director for Take On Wall Street and head of its Save the Post Office Campaign, said Biden’s decision to remove Bloom and Barger best serves USPS and its customers.

“President Biden has listened to the millions of people across the nation demanding a return to the quiet competence of the post office before Louis DeJoy and his friend Ron Bloom took a wrecking ball to it. Ron Bloom has no place in the USPS’s future, and we are glad to see his tenure in the past,” McConnell said.

DeJoy and Congress have worked together on the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act that would, among other things, eliminate the agency’s mandate since 2006 to pre-fund retiree health benefits, and would instead shift USPS to a pay-as-you-go system.

USPS has defaulted on billions of dollars in scheduled payments to its retiree health fund since 2012. The bill is the Postal Service’s sole legislative request in its 10-year reform plan, and is essential to its plans to end its 15-year streak of net losses. 

Democratic lawmakers also secured $6 billion in the House-passed Build Back Better Act that will allow USPS to purchase more electric delivery vehicles and set up charging stations at its facilities across the country.

USPS, meanwhile, quietly launched a pilot in September that allows customers to cash payroll and business checks in the form of gift cards. Progressive Democrats urged USPS to expand postal banking services for years, but the agency’s pilot has frustrated House Republicans.

Tangherlini said in a statement that his nomination comes at a “critical time for the U.S. Postal Service.”

“If confirmed, I look forward to serving and working to make sure the Postal Service is run as efficiently and effectively as possible,” he said.

Kan said he would, in confirmed, “work to strengthen the Postal Service so that it will continue to serve the American people well into the future.”

“Having served both on Capitol Hill and in the White House, I know firsthand the importance of good leadership at the US Postal Service and the critical role it plays in people’s lives,” Kan said.

The USPS Board of Governors last week voted to re-elect Bloom as its chairman, over the objections of two of Biden’s recently confirmed picks.

Two of Biden’s picks on the board, former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman and Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for APWU, requested to delay the election, but were overruled by the board.

When put to a vote, Stroman and Hajjar voted against Bloom’s re-election. Bloom’s term expired in December 2020, but he has been serving in a holdover year. His tenure on the board expires Dec. 8. Barger’s term expires the same day, but he has not used his holdover year.

The Washington Post first reported Friday that Biden would replace Bloom and Barger.

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