The House Democrats finally passed Build Back Better! Can this day get better? Why yes, yes it can. Friday, President Joe Biden announced his nominees for the United States Postal Service Board of Governors, “to replace outgoing Governors Ron Bloom and John Barger.”
Yes, current board chair Ron Bloom—Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s greatest champion—will not be returning when his term is up on Dec. 8. Thank you, President Biden!
Biden is nominating Daniel Tangherlini, the former administrator of the General Services Administration in the Obama administration, to replace Bloom. Derek Kan, Republican and former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, would replace Republican John M. Barger. The board is made up of nine members, and is bipartisan. There are currently four Democrats, four Republicans, and one Independent. Biden will have appointed five members once these nominations are confirmed.
“The USPS serves hundreds of millions of Americans across the nation every day,” the White House wrote in the statement announcing the nominations. “President Biden is committed to supporting USPS workers so that they can continue delivering for their fellow Americans, particularly those in rural communities, veterans, and older Americans who rely so heavily on the Postal Service.”
“President Biden is also committed to strengthening and modernizing this critical public institution and its services to ensure it continues serving the American people for decades to come,” the statement continues.
Tangherlini, the White House said in making the announcement, “served in leadership roles in the public, non-profit and private sectors. His interest is in bringing increased equity and efficiency to business, philanthropy, and government through the thoughtful application of technology, process, and systems reform.” In addition to his time at the head of GSA, he served as “Chief Financial Officer at the Department of the Treasury, as City Administrator and Deputy Mayor of Washington, D.C. under Mayor Fenty; as Interim General Manager of DC’s Metro; the first Director of the D.C. Department of Transportation; the CFO of the DC Metropolitan Police Department; and various roles in the Federal Government at the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.”
Kan is currently an executive at Deliverr, an e-commerce fulfillment startup. He’s also served as an executive for Lyft, and was a director of the Amtrak Board, nominated by President Barack Obama. He also served as a policy adviser to Mitch McConnell when he was Majority Leader in the Senate, along with a revolving set of executive offices under Trump, including as Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy in the United States Department of Transportation, under then-Secretary Elaine Chao—who is also McConnell’s spouse. Seems like the administration found the most McConnell-friendly nominee possible.
The Washington Post has some delicious nuggets on the story, including the fact that “Bloom as recently as last week told confidants he expected to be renominated, said one person familiar with his conversations.” At their November 10 meeting, the Trump-appointed majority on the board voted to keep Bloom as chair over the objections of the Democrats on the board. That vote of confidence from Trumpsters clearly wasn’t enough to sway Biden.
Behind the scenes, a core group of Democratic senators told Biden to boot Bloom.
At least two Senate Democrats, Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Jon Tester (Mont.),” the Post reports, “cited ethics concerns in communications with the White House over Bloom’s renomination, according to representatives from their offices.” In addition to them, Wisconsin’s Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Sens. Kirstin Gillibrand (New York), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), and Vermont’s Independent Bernie Sanders have all told the White House Bloom’s ongoing support of DeJoy disqualifies him from the post.
Gillibrand said she would “vigorously oppose” Bloom if he were nominated again. “During a time when Americans have relied on the Postal Service for prescriptions, benefits and voting, DeJoy has slashed service hours, arbitrarily removed mail processing equipment and caused unprecedented and widespread delays,” she told the Post. Sanders said that the “major crises” confronting the demand “a Postal Service board of governors that is committed to replacing Mr. DeJoy with a postmaster general who will protect and strengthen the Postal Service, not undermine and sabotage it.”
The Board of Governors, which will have a majority of Biden nominees once these confirmations are done, has the power to remove DeJoy—they’re the only ones that can do it and now two of DeJoy’s biggest boosters will be gone. The White House has made it clear that they’re not happy with DeJoy, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying back in February, “I think we can all agree, most Americans would agree, that the Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job.”
Is Tangherlini going into this with the expectation that he’ll hasten DeJoy’s departure? I’m pretty sure that’s a yes. DeJoy has been a walking, talking conglomeration of corruption since he took office, straight from his big donations to Republicans and the Trump convention through to his investments with Bloom’s investment firm. On the way, the company he founded and still has a financial interest in has gotten some sweet USPS contracts.
If the corruption wasn’t bad enough, there’s the destruction of the Postal Service during a pandemic—the delayed mail, the dismantling of post office infrastructure, the 10-year plan to purposely make mail delivery a lot slower and cost more—all of this. DeJoy seemingly bribed his way into the job, and Trump put him there to screw up the mail ahead of the 2020 election. DeJoy has got to go, and now it looks like his days in the office are numbered. The remaining board members are going to have to nail down anything he might be able to steal on the way out.