The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, elected a new Republican chairman of its governing board, elevating one of President Trump’s appointees over President Biden’s picks.
Roman Martinez, who joined the USPS board of governors in 2019, will serve as the panel’s 25th chairman. Anton Hajjar, a former American Postal Workers Union official nominated to his post by Biden, will serve as vice-chairman. The board members voted unanimously for the leadership positions at a meeting on Wednesday.
Martinez, who previously served as vice-chair, succeeds Ron Bloom, a Trump-appointed Democrat, whose term expired last month. Martinez served largely in the private sector, spending decades at Lehman Brothers and on various boards. He has led the postal board’s Audit and Finance Committee since 2019.
The new chairman has been an ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, defending his controversial decisions, endorsing his 10-year plan to improve postal finances through, among other things, service cuts and price hikes, and calling him the right leader for the Postal Service. Hajjar, meanwhile, has voiced a lukewarm response to DeJoy’s tenure. The new vice-chairman has said, however, that there was “a lot to like” in DeJoy’s plan, despite having reservations over some provisions.
Currently, five members of the board were nominated by Trump and three by Biden. One of Trump’s nominees, Lee Moak, is a Democrat, leaving the panel split ideologically. Biden has two more appointees pending, one to take Bloom’s empty seat and one to replace John Barger, but their nominations are pending before the Senate. With Martinez’s selection, DeJoy will maintain a friendly chairman leading the board even if Biden’s remaining nominees are confirmed and have a majority on the panel. While many congressional Democrats have called on Biden to nominate board members who would remove DeJoy from office, such a move remains unlikely.
DeJoy said on Wednesday he has “benefited from Martinez’s broad experience and wise counsel throughout my tenure as postmaster general and especially during the development of the Delivering for America plan.”
Keeping DeJoy in charge and one of his allies in charge of the board raises the prospect for sweeping postal reform legislation to make its way through Congress, with a House bill so far earning only tepid Republican support.