August 13, 2020 at 10:47 a.m. EDT
President Trump said Thursday that he does not want to fund the U.S. Postal Service because Democrats are seeking to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, making explicit the reason he has declined to approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the cash-strapped agency.
“Now, they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. He added: “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
Trump has railed against mail-in balloting for months, and at a White House briefing Wednesday, he argued without evidence that USPS’s enlarged role in the November election would perpetuate “one of the greatest frauds in history.”
During the Wednesday briefing, Trump told reporters he would not approve the $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources, citing prohibitively high costs. But he went further in remarks Thursday morning, blaming Democrats’ efforts to make it easier for Americans to vote amid the pandemic.
“There’s nothing wrong with getting out and voting. . . . They voted during World War I and World War II,” Trump told Bartiromo.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back Thursday in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“In the legislation we had $25 billion,” Pelosi said. “That is the number that is recommended by the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service. . . . In earlier covid bills, the president has stood in the way of any money for the Postal Service.”
Pelosi noted that the among other things, the Postal Service delivers many prescriptions, which is particularly important in pandemic times.
“So they’re hurting seniors; it’s a health issue. . . . So, when the president goes after the Postal Service, he’s going after an all-American, highly approved-by-the-public institution,” she said.
The campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden criticized Trump’s statement, saying Trump was “sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon.”
“This is an assault on our democracy and economy by a desperate man who’s terrified that the American people will force him to confront what he’s done everything in his power to escape for months — responsibility for his own actions,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.
Democrats earlier in the spring had rallied to the Postal Service’s defense when it sat on the brink of insolvency. Postal officials warned at the outset of the pandemic that declines on mail volume could have led the agency to run out of money in October.
As Congress agreed to a $13 billion emergency grant for the USPS in an early round of coronavirus relief spending, Trump threatened to veto the bill — worth $2 trillion and full of funding for unemployment benefits, small businesses and national security industries — if it included any direct funding for the Postal Service.