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Under questioning from Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Postmaster General Louis DeJoy acknowledged at a hearing on Monday that he knows "very little about postage stamps."

Why it matters: Porter and other Democrats have accused DeJoy, a Trump donor and successful businessman, of being unqualified to serve in his position at a time when the U.S. Postal Service is set to deliver a record number of mail-in ballots ahead of the November election.

The big picture: DeJoy, who clashed repeatedly with Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee during Monday's hearing, vehemently denied that he is "engaged in sabotaging the election" as part of a campaign by President Trump to undermine mail-in voting.

  • He reiterated that he would suspend until after the election the sweeping operational changes that have reportedly been causing widespread mail delays, but he would not commit to reversing them or reinstalling dismantled mail sorting machines.
  • DeJoy also testified that many of the changes that he's been accused of making were in effect before he arrived in the job in June and that he does not know who ordered them.

The exchange:

PORTER: "What is the cost of a first-class postage stamp?"
DEJOY: "55 cents. "
PORTER: "Just wanted to check. What about to mail a postcard?"
DEJOY: "I don't know."
PORTER: "You don't know the cost to mail a postcard? 
DEJOY: "I don't. "
PORTER: "What if I want to mail a — you said 55 cents for a first-class stamp, but what if it's one of those greeting cards that's a square envelope. Then what is the postage?"
DEJOY: "I will submit that I know very little about postage stamps."
PORTER: "Do you know about, within a million or so, can you tell me how many people voted by mail in the last presidential election?"
DEJOY: "No, I cannot."
PORTER: "To the nearest 10 million? 
DEJOY: "I would be guessing, and I don't want to guess."
PORTER: "Okay. So Mr. DeJoy, I am concerned — I'm glad you know the price of a stamp, but I am concerned about your understanding of this agency."

Go deeper

Updated Nov 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

More than 100 million Americans voted early in 2020

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than 100 million Americans voted early in the 2020 election across the U.S., according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.