It wasn’t a global pandemic combined with Trump-induced incompetence that drove a slowdown of the United States Postal Service in 2020; nope, Black Lives Matter protesters and Antifa were to blame, according to one (incorrect) Republican congressman.
On Wednesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Postal Service board of governors chairman Ron Bloom testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. While Democrats criticized DeJoy’s plan to slow first-class mail delivery time—and the lack of diversity on the board (Rep. Cori Bush said it looked like a “white millionaire boys club”)—Republicans spent most of the testimony defending DeJoy, a Trump donor who was elevated to the Postmaster position in June 2020 and promptly instituted controversial policy changes, like removing mail sorting machines and reducing overtime, which led to catastrophic delays in service just before an election dependent on mail-in ballots.
But if you ask Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the protests of summer 2020 were the real culprit.
“Last year, our Democratic colleagues turned a blind eye to nationwide mayhem, destruction, rioting, and looting conducted by Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists,” Biggs said. “Many businesses and government agencies, including the postal service, saw their entities burn and operations halted because of the persistent violent riots.”
He went on to offer examples of incidents in which post offices were burglarized and burned down. However, as Washington Post politics reporter Dave Weigel noted on Twitter, only two post offices were burned...in May, before DeJoy became postmaster general and before the controversial summer slowdown.
DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures resulted in 31 percent of mail arriving late from July 1 through August 15. While some of the changes were eventually suspended, DeJoy couldn’t quite wash away the stink. After all, DeJoy’s choices sparked serious disruption and distrust in the postage system at a time when millions of Americans planned to vote-by-mail and when Trump was falsely characterizing vote-by-mail as fraudulent and refused to provide emergency monetary relief to the struggling postal system (“They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting,” Trump said back in August. “So, therefore, they can’t do it, I guess.”)
Whether Trump’s influence played a role in the slowdown or not, DeJoy’s complicity in the slowdowns, as well as the impact of his unpopular cost-cutting measures, aren’t debatable. This, in addition to the thousands of USPS employees who were out sick with covid-19 and USPS operating in the red contributed to nationwide clusterfuck in the postal system.
But, of course, it’s way easier to blame some angry Black people and a couple isolated cases of arson.