Rep. Gerry Connolly unloaded on a Republican congressman who suggested Wednesday that Democratic lawmakers’ concerns about the operations of the United States Postal Service and controversial changes sought by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were partisan rather than rooted in wanting to better serve the public.
Connolly (D-Va.) was responding to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing that included testimony from DeJoy, Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom, USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb, and American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein.
“I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did!” declared Connolly, chair of the committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations, which has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over the Postal Service.
Jordan was among the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the results of the November election—which former President Donald Trump decisively lost to President Joe Biden—even after a violent insurrectionist mob incited by Trump and GOP lawmakers stormed the Capitol, triggering Trump’s second impeachment.
During the hearing, Jordan asked DeJoy a series of questions suggesting that Democrats and other critics opposed changes the postmaster general pushed ahead of the election for political reasons, noting that neither President Joe Biden nor Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chair, has recently demanded he resign.
“What’s different between February 24, 2021 and August 24, 2020. What happened in those six months?” Jordan asked DeJoy, who last year experienced protests at his home in North Carolina over his management of the Postal Service amid the coronavirus pandemic. “What could explain the Democrats’ difference in attitude?”
After initially trying to tell Jordan that he didn’t want to “participate” in what he was suggesting, the postmaster general ultimately guessed that the supposed shift in Democratic “attitude” was related to either DeJoy’s new strategic plan for the USPS or last year’s election.
“We had an election. It was all a charade,” Jordan said about Democratic criticism of delays that followed disruptive operational changes DeJoy made at USPS as the public health crisis made voting by mail particularly popular and important. “It was all about politics. It was all about the election.”
DeJoy declined to share whether he agrees with Jordan’s charge that Democrats sought “chaos and confusion” related to mail-in ballots, saying that “it was a very sensitive time for the nation and there was a lot of activity—” before being cut off by Jordan.
Connolly, who spoke immediately after Jordan, said, “All the gaslighting that we just heard does not change facts.”
The Democrat then asked Dimondstein: “Am I making this up, as Mr. Jordan apparently would have you believe, that the president of the United States last summer, Donald J. Trump, publicly said voting by mail would lead to massive fraud? Did he say that, or am I imagining that?”
The union leader responded that he didn’t believe Connolly was imagining it, then recalled Trump’s comments about blocking Covid-19 relief for the Postal Service and its impact on mail-in ballots.
“The point is, it was Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, who was planting the idea—aided and abetted by disruptive changes proposed by a new postmaster general and a compliant Board of Governors—that actually eroded the public confidence in the ability to vote by mail,” Connolly said. “That wasn’t a Democratic narrative; that was a Republican narrative by the president of the United States and [his] enablers.”
Connolly, who said that he is “damn proud” of being a Democrat, then took aim at Republicans on the committee, saying that he won’t be lectured to about partisanship by GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the November election.
Asked at the hearing how long he planned to serve as postmaster general, to which he was appointed by the Board of Governors, Dejoy said, “A long time—get used to me.”
Biden has faced pressure from dozens of Democratic lawmakers to swiftly fill vacancies on the board to stop DeJoy from making further changes and ultimately facilitate his removal. The president on Wednesday named a voting rights advocate and two Democrats to fill three of the four open positions; Senate confirmation is required.
“I applaud President Biden’s nominations of three new members to the Postal Service Board of Governors. It is crystal clear that the Postal Service’s performance and its financial condition have deteriorated significantly, and new and better leadership is urgently needed,” said Maloney. “I also commend the president for his continuing commitment to appoint individuals who represent the diversity of America. The board nominations today reflect that commitment.”