×

Trump opposes postal money that would help vote-by-mail

Eric Severson holds a sign as a few dozen people gather in front of the United States Post Office on Rodd St. to protest recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service under new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020 in Midland, Mich. (Katy Kildee/Midland Daily News via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service, acknowledging that his position would starve the agency of money Democrats say it needs to process an anticipated surge in mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump also claimed anew — falsely — that Democrats were pushing for universal mail-in voting and predicted without providing evidence that mail-in voting would lead to massive voter fraud in the November election. Polls indicate Trump is in for a tough reelection fight against Democrat Joe Biden.

The Republican president said on Fox Business Network that among the big sticking points for a new congressional virus relief package were the Democrats’ demands for billions of dollars to assist states in protecting the election and to help postal workers process mail-in ballots.

“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on “Mornings with Maria,” adding, “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

Trump has moved to sow public distrust in the Postal Service’s ability to deliver what is expected to be record numbers of mail-in ballots. The agency’s new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to Trump and other Republicans, has instituted operational changes that have led to delivery delays across the U.S.

For Democrats, Trump’s comments Thursday morning were a clear admission that the president is attempting to restrict voting rights.

“The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Negotiations over a new virus relief package have all but ended, with the White House and congressional leaders far apart on the size, scope and approach for shoring up households, reopening schools and launching a national strategy to contain the coronavirus.

While there is some common ground over $100 billion for schools and new funds for virus testing, Democrats also want other emergency funds that Trump rejects.

“They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent. That’s election money, basically,” Trump said during Thursday’s call-in interview.

“They want $25 billion — billion — for the post office,” he said, adding that, without it, the Postal Service won’t be equipped to handle the influx of mail-in ballots.

Democrats have pushed for $10 billion for the Postal Service in talks with Republicans on a huge COVID-19 response bill.

The figure is down from a $25 billion plan in a House-passed coronavirus measure.

DeJoy, who was tapped to head the Postal Service by a Trump-appointed board of governors and started in June, has said that the agency is in a financially untenable position, but he maintains that it can handle this year’s election mail. He is the first postmaster general in nearly two decades who is not a career postal employee.

“Although there will likely be an unprecedented increase in election mail volume due to the pandemic, the Postal Service has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on-time in accordance with our delivery standards, and we will do so,” he told the Postal Service’s governing board last week.

Memos obtained by The Associated Press show that Postal Service leadership has pushed to eliminate overtime and halt late delivery trips that are sometimes needed to ensure mail arrives on time, measures that postal workers and union officials say are delaying service. Additional records detail cuts to hours at post offices, including reductions on Saturdays and during lunch hours.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
   

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today