WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 24:  U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy arrives to testify at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on August 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee is holding a hearing on "Protecting the Timely Delivery of Mail, Medicine, and Mail-in Ballots."  (Photo by Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images)
USPS Chief: We're capable of delivering ballots on time
04:52 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

During his testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee on Monday, USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy denied that he was responsible for cutting overtime pay across the US Postal Service.

“I did not direct the cutback on hours at any of our postal offices, and finally I did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime,” DeJoy said in his opening statement to lawmakers, adding, “I did, however, suspend these practices to remove any misperceptions about our commitment to delivering the nation’s election mail.”

Facts First: Though he may have suspended them, Dejoy’s effort to declaim his role in the restrictions is a highly misleading attempt to draw a narrow distinction. A July 10 internal memo directed to all USPS employees did not explicitly state that overtime was ending. But it did create specific conditions that, union officials tells CNN, directly led to a significant majority of overtime opportunities being eliminated and prevented.

CNN obtained the July 10 memo from federal court filings in a lawsuit filed by a group of Democratic candidates in New York federal court against DeJoy and the USPS. While the memo does not bear DeJoy’s signature, or mention his name, it’s unclear how it could have been implemented without his knowledge or approval. As postmaster general, DeJoy is the chief executive over the entire USPS.

Mail carriers are now required to return to their base on time, even if they have not finished their route – leading to the drops in overtime that union officials say have occurred. As explained by an August 21 statement by the USPS, the July 10 memo also included the mandate that “extra trips” would be “authorized or accepted” and that carriers must “return on time.”

Responding to DeJoy’s comments on Monday, American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein told CNN that DeJoy’s policy changes were responsible for the mail slowdowns .

“Regardless of the back and forth in today’s hearing, it’s an indisputable fact mail postal customers have witnessed a degrading and slowing of mail service since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted changes in mid-July,” Dimondstein said. “This slowdown is directly due to changes in the transportation of mail and an overall reduction in work hours.”

When DeJoy told Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, that he hadn’t ended overtime, Quigley asked him if he was certain that overtime hadn’t been cut under his watch.

“No, I’m not certain, that’s part of the problem at the postal service,” DeJoy responded.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top-ranking Democrats in Congress, met with DeJoy on August 6. After the meeting, they said DeJoy privately “confirmed that … the Postal Service recently instituted operational changes” that “include reductions of overtime availability,” and other cost-cutting measures.

DeJoy has been criticized for many of the changes at USPS, including the removal of blue post office boxes and large mail sorting machines. But he has only taken responsibility for stopping late trucks and extra trips in his congressional testimonies.

In an exchange on Monday with Rep. Lacy Clay, a Missouri Democrat, DeJoy explained that he didn’t view the decision prohibiting late truck runs as a “change” that he imposed. “It wasn’t a change, it was [to] comply with your schedules,” he said, adding that he reviewed this plan with regional vice presidents from USPS. “I received a commitment that we would be able to roll forward with the plan to committing to our existing schedule.”

The USPS has not responded to CNN’s repeated inquiries for more information about overtime cuts.

CNN’s Kristen Holmes and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report