Rolling Stone: Rep. Katie Porter Exposes the Dangerous Ignorance of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy
By: Tim Dickinson
Rep. Katie Porter is one of the most formidable questioners in Congress. In advance of Monday’s hearing on the monkey-wrenching of the Postal Service under the watch of new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Porter warned the longtime GOP megadonor to come prepared.
How did that turn out?
DeJoy’s testimony at Monday’s hearing was smug, unapologetic and combative. He refused to commit to handing over documents in a timely fashion or to plug back in mail sorting equipment that has been decommissioned, insisting without evidence that it’s not needed.
In just five minutes, Porter took control of the hearing. She revealed DeJoy as dangerously indifferent about the vital public service he oversees — and appears to be running into the ground, delaying the shipment of vital medicine, benefit checks, and even killing livestock like chicks entrusted to USPS.
Under questioning from the first-term California representative, DeJoy admitted he was ignorant about the nuts and bolts of USPS. He was unable to say how much postage is required to mail a post card (it’s 35 cents) or to guess, even within 10 million, how many Americans voted by mail in the last presidential election (roughly 33 million).
Porter also got DeJoy to admit that he did not perform his own analysis or oversight of sweeping changes at the Postal Service that, since his arrival in June, have seen on-time deliveries plummet, collection boxes carted away, and high-speed equipment yanked out of mail sorting facilities in key swing states and junked.
In fact, DeJoy claimed, the marching instructions to slow down the mail hadn’t come from him. “I did not order major overhaul plans,” DeJoy told Porter. “The items you identify were not directed by me.”
“Mr. Dejoy,” Porter asked, “if you did not order these actions to be taken, please tell the committee the name of who did.”
DeJoy response was gobsmacking: “I do not know.”
While DeJoy declaimed responsibility for the changes, he plainly approves of them, as he would not make a commitment to rolling them back.
“Mr. DeJoy, will you commit to reversing these changes?” Porter asked.
DeJoy’s answer was flat and defiant: “No.”
Watch the full exchange and read a transcript of the exchange below:
Katie Porter: Mr. DeJoy, thank you for being with us today. What is the cost of a first class postage stamp?
Louis DeJoy: Fifty five cents.
Porter: Just wanted to check. What about to mail a postcard?
DeJoy: I don’t. I don’t know.
Porter: You don’t know the cost to mail a postcard?
DeJoy: I don’t.
Porter: You said fifty five cents for a first class stamp, but what if it’s like one of those greeting cards? If it’s a square envelope. Then what is the postage?
DeJoy: I’ll submit that I know very little about a postage stamp.
Porter: You are more in the shipping logistics business. What’s the weight limit for Priority Mail?
DeJoy: Seventy pounds.
Porter: And what is the starting rate for USPS Priority Mail.
DeJoy: The starting rate for what?
Porter: USPS Priority Mail starting–
DeJoy: Starting weight. Fourteen ounces.
Porter: No, the rate, the price.
DeJoy: I don’t know. I don’t know.
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: OK. So, Mr. DeJoy, I’m concerned. I’m glad you know the price of a stamp, but I’m concerned about your understanding of this agency. And I’m particularly concerned about it because you started taking very decisive action when you became postmaster general. You started directing the unplugging and destroying of machines, changing of employee procedures and locking of collection boxes. As a professor, I’ve always told my students that one of the most important rules in life is to read the instructions. Did you actually read and independently analyze the major overhaul plans before you ordered them to take effect?
DeJoy: Again, I will repeat that I did not order major overhaul plans. The items you identify were not directed by me. I did, and you don’t need much analysis, to get to run the trucks to a schedule.
Porter: Reclaiming my time, Mr. DeJoy. Could you please tell me who did order these changes? If the postmaster general did not cause these changes have resulted in, and you said yourself have said in this hearing–
DeJoy: The postal service has been around for 250 years. There are plans. There are many, many executives at almost the 30,000 executives within the organization–
Porter: Reclaiming my time. Mr. DeJoy, if you did not order these actions to be taken, please tell the committee the name of who did.
DeJoy: I do not know.
Porter: Mr. DeJoy, did you analyze these plans before they went into effect, you as postmaster general, supervise whomever did?
DeJoy: As I’ve stated numerous times. The plans were in effect and being implemented before I arrived.
Porter: Mr. DeJoy, do you take responsibility for these changes?
DeJoy: I take responsibility from the day I sat in this seat for any service deterioration that has has has occurred.
Porter: I’m reclaiming my time, sir. Mr. Dejoy, will you commit to reversing these changes.