As postal customers across the United States are experiencing service disruptions and delays, Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan is demanding that Congress take action.
“My office has heard from residents in the district who have been frustrated by significant delays in their mail delivery which has affected their ability to receive paychecks and Social Security checks on time, pay their bills, and receive lifesaving prescription medications, jeopardizing their health, safety, and well-being,” Pocan wrote in a Jan. 29 letter urging leaders on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to arrange a hearing with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “This is simply unacceptable.”
“My office has heard with rapidly increasing frequency from constituents across South Central Wisconsin regarding delays and disruptions to their mail delivery and postal services,” Pocan wrote in a Jan. 24 letter directly to DeJoy, noting that some of his constituents had complained of going an entire week with no mail delivered.
DeJoy, a Republican megadonor who served as finance chair of the 2020 Republican National Convention, was appointed to run the U.S. Postal Service in May 2020 by its board of governors. His nomination received immediate criticism over his lack of experience at the agency and conflicts of interest stemming from his investments in competitor companies.
After taking over, he made a series of moves that disrupted mail delivery. He cut overtime for employees, removed sorting machines, increased first-class mail delivery times, and reduced local post offices’ hours of operation.
At the time, Pocan organized a letter from House Democrats calling for DeJoy to be removed immediately from office.
Because DeJoy’s actions came during the 2020 election season, as the COVID-19 pandemic led many voters to opt to use mail-in ballots, Pocan accused DeJoy of sabotaging the agency to “create chaos” for voters. DeJoy denied the charges and told Congress in May 2021, “I would give myself an ’A’ for bringing strategy and the planning and effort to here.”
Under federal law, the postmaster general can only be removed by the board of governors.
A spokesperson for the Postal Service did not immediately respond to a Wisconsin Independent reporter’s request for comment, but spokesperson Jim McKean told USA Today on Jan. 26 that winter weather was a major factor in the delays. The outlet reported on postal delays in Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
One Wisconsin resident told Madison television station WMTV on Jan. 17 that she and her neighbors had been waiting a week for mail delivery.
”We have to pay those bills, so it’s like, where is the mail?” Therese Lawler said in an interview with the station’s news team. ”Our complex is a lot of seniors and if they can’t get their money, it’s scary.”
”If we’re not getting the mail, they’re not taking it either, so now our bills aren’t getting paid,” Lawler added.
In an email received by the Wisconsin Independent after publication of this story, a Postal Service spokesperson said the agency would respond directly to Pocan and wrote: “The Postal Service is aware of service issues in Madison, WI. In the wake of recent snowstorms throughout region, postal officials requested the public’s cooperation in keeping mailboxes, steps, and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. … The Postal Service appreciates customers’ patience with us as we continue to [work] to address these issues.”