President Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy promised that he would stop holding the Postal Service sorting machines hostage if Congress allocated $1 billion to the USPS.
The moment came during a testy exchange between DeJoy and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). DeJoy stammered and struggled to answer questions about why the machines were taken offline, saying that they weren't helping and it wasn't what was slowing down the mail. He said that sorting machines were taking up too much space and that's why they were removed. Prior to the sorting machines being removed, there wasn't a slowdown in getting mail delivered. After, however, mail has taken considerably longer.
Khanna demanded to know if DeJoy knew how many veterans get their medication from the USPS. DeJoy didn't know. "It's 80 percent," said Khanna.
He also demanded to know why Republicans demand the USPS to make a profit when the Department of Defense or the National Institute of Health aren't told to make a profit.
"Your perspective this is necessary to make efficiency packages," Khanna inquired. "You understand this means the people in America who have the opposite view who are concerned this may slow down the delivery of mail? Do you have any sense of how much it would cost to restore these machines? Would they be less than $10 billion?"
DeJoy was confused but agreed that plugging the machines back in would cost less than $10 billion.
"Less than $1 billion?" Khanna asked.
"I would assume so," DeJoy struggled.
"Here's my question. Let's stipulate you may be right about the deficiency, but let's just stipulate that," Khanna continued. "Now, we have Donald Trump tweeting out yesterday that he's up in the polls, he thinks he's going to win. Nate Silver thinks Biden is going to win and everybody can agree on one thing, whoever wins the American people should have confidence in that result. So, if it would cost less than a billion dollars regardless of if it's efficient or not, what is the harm in putting those machines back into election day just for the peace of mind and the confidence of the American people?"
"First of all, sir, we do not -- we've heard all statistics about the mailing votes and so forth," DeJoy stammered. "We don't need the machines to process the election. But you make a statement about -- for a billion dollars -- if we just gave you a billion dollars. You're not going to give us a billion dollars. You're gonna make a request -- you have no way of getting us a billion dollars, we have not been funded in ten years, you cannot pass any legislation that helps both of us.
"If we give you the money, do you see my point?" Khanna continued.
"I'm not going to -- the hypothetical --" DeJoy ranted. "You haven't given us any money."
"What is the harm?" Khanna asked.
"You're accusing me--" DeJoy said getting testy.
"I'm not accusing anything, I'm trying to understand," said Khanna. "I'm trying to understand what most Americans are trying to understand. What is the harm of putting these machines -- even if the machines, in your perspective, don't do anything, what is the harm in doing it until Election Day?"
DeJoy ultimately conceded he would plug them back in for $1 billion. Some of the machines have already been dismantled and at least one is sitting outside in the parking lot of a processing center.
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