The agency’s long-standing structural problems are more apparent than ever, and DeJoy is poised to move ahead with his draconian efforts to slash delivery costs. It will be an uphill battle for President-elect Joe Biden to restore the USPS to its former glory—but as the past year has shown, the survival of our democracy literally depends on it.
Biden’s first obstacle will be the agency’s governing structure. DeJoy has no fixed term limit, and only the board of governors has the power to replace him. All six of its current members were appointed by Trump, which allowed the board to ram through DeJoy’s nomination last spring. Biden has pledged to appoint Democrats to fill the remaining vacancies, but he will still need more appointments to the nine-member board before his party has a controlling majority. That could take until 2022, and until then he won’t have the opportunity to oust DeJoy.
The road to any Biden-era postal reform, then, may run through Capitol Hill. The Constitution grants Congress broad authority to regulate the Postal Service, but lawmakers over the past decade have all but abrogated that power. At the onset of the pandemic, they restricted postal aid in the first CARES Act to a $10 billion loan from the Treasury, refusing to provide the direct cash infusion that USPS leaders said they needed. However, the second coronavirus aid package forgives this loan, which shows that lawmakers may have more appetite for direct aid now that Trump is fading from view.