In a fiery exchange with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Monday, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy scoffed when asked if he would reinstall dismantled mail-sorting machines, saying, "Get me the billion and I'll put the machines in."

Driving the news: The exchange came during a heated House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on recent changes to the USPS that Democrats fear will threaten the Postal Service's ability to handle the expected surge in mail-in ballots for November's election. Earlier in the day, DeJoy defiantly told the committee he would not reinstall the dismantled machines.

The big picture: “I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said, calling allegations that he has made sweeping operational changes in order to undercut mail-in voting a "false narrative." He reiterated that he will suspend all changes until after the election in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

  • The USPS “will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time," DeJoy said, adding that he personally plans to vote by mail. "We can, and will, handle the volume of election mail we receive.’"
  • DeJoy said that he has told allies of President Trump that his constant attacks on mail-in voting are "not helpful."

The exchange:

KHANNA: "So if it would cost less than a billion dollars, regardless of whether it’s efficient or not, what is the harm in just putting those machines back until Election Day just for the peace of mind and confidence of the American people?”
DeJOY: "First of all ... we've heard all statistics about the mail-in votes and so forth, we don't need the machines to process an 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 10 years. You cannot pass any legislation that helps the Postal Service."
KHANNA: "If we give you the money, do you see my point?"
DeJOY: "It's a hypothetical. ... You haven't given us any money. You haven't given us any legislation."
KHANNA: "What is the harm? But what is the harm?"
DeJOY: "And you're sitting here accusing me of things."
KHANNA: "I haven't accused you of anything ---"
DeJOY: "As the committee, and it's a big statement: 'If we give you a billion dollars.'"
KHANNA: "I think I'm trying to understand what most Americans are trying to understand. What is the harm in putting these machines, even if the machines in your perspective don't do anything, what is the harm to do it until Election Day?"
DeJOY: "In Washington, it makes plenty sense. To me it makes none."
KHANNA: "You haven't explained why and final question—"
DeJOY: "Because they're not needed. That's why."
KHANNA: "But if it will restore people's faith in a democracy and avoid a polarized election, I would think—"
DeJOY: "Ok. Get me the billion and I'll put the machines in."
KHANNA: "OK well that's a commitment. We'll find a way to get you the money."

Of note: The House voted on Saturday to give the USPS $25 billion and to block and reverse the operational changes that are leading to widespread mail delays. 26 Republicans supported the measure, but the bill is unlikely to move forward after a White House veto threat.

Go deeper: 6 states sue USPS, say changes hurt efforts to hold "free and fair elections"

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