Friday, August 14, 2020

Trump trashes mail-in voting, then says he would sign coronavirus relief deal with Postal Service funding

"President Trump stirred new questions on Thursday about whether he would seek to hold up new money to the Postal Service to impede mail-in voting this fall in the middle of the pandemic," Emily Cochrane and Hailey Fuchs report for The New York Times. "Repeating the unfounded claim that the election could be riddled with fraud if mail ballots were widely used, he made clear that he opposed Democratic demands for additional funding for both the post office and election-security measures because of his opposition to mail-in voting. Still, he left open the possibility that he could come to a deal as part of a larger negotiation over a new round of economic stimulus."

During his press conference on Thursday, Trump "said that he would in fact sign a coronavirus relief deal if it had funding for the U.S. Postal Service, after saying earlier in the day that he wouldn’t accept a bill with USPS money," Melanie Zanona reports for Politico. "But Democrats are still worried that Trump will try to impede mail-in voting efforts ahead of the election, especially after he explicitly said that was the reason he was opposed to USPS money."

House Democrats' relief bill would allot $25 billion to the Postal Service, while the Senate Republicans' bill includes no aid for the financially strapped agency, on which rural Americans disproportionately rely. Partly because of a drop in mail volume, the service projected in May that it will lose another $22 billion over the next year and a half, and could run out of money by September without a bailout.

The House and Senate are still reportedly "miles apart" on agreeing on the next pandemic relief package, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Since both chambers are out of town for the August recess, it'll be September before they even begin to negotiate on a reconciled coronavirus bill. They'll also be busy working on the omnibus spending bill that must be passed by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown, Zanona reports, all of which will make for a "crazy September."

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