WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said Thursday he was blocking Democrats’ efforts to include funds for the U.S. postal service and electoral infrastructure in a new coronavirus relief law to prevent more Americans from mailing during the pandemic to vote.
Congressional Democrats accused Republican Trump of attempting to harm the struggling postal service to improve his chances of re-election, as opinion polls show he is lagging behind alleged Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Trump has been railing against mail-in ballot papers as a possible source of fraud for months, even though millions of Americans – including a large part of the military ̵
Trump said his negotiators resisted Democrats’ calls for extra money to prepare for presidential, congressional and local elections during a pandemic that killed more than 165,000 Americans and logistical challenges for organizing an event as large as of the November 3rd elections.
“The items are the post office and the $ 3.5 billion postal vote,” Trump told Fox Business Network, saying the Democrats plan to give the post $ 25 billion. “If we don’t close the deal, it means they can’t have the money, which means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.”
Trump later said at a press conference that he would not veto a deal that included post-financing.
The amount of money in question is less than 1% of the current bidding package for Americans struggling with the pandemic. Senate Republicans released a $ 1 trillion response, while the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives passed a $ 3 trillion bill in May.
The White House negotiating team, comprised of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, has not met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer in six days.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday the Republican-controlled Senate will leave Washington by September unless there is a coronavirus relief agreement that requires a vote.
“I still hope we have some kind of bipartisan deal here in the coming weeks,” he told reporters.
Democrats have cried badly, accusing Trump and his party of trying to make it harder for Americans to vote, as experts said concerns over catching COVID-19 could deter up to half of voters from voting in person.
“Pure trump card. He doesn’t want a vote, ”Biden said when asked for Trump’s comments before a campaign appearance.
Roughly one in four US voters cast ballots in the mail in 2016, and Trump voted by mail. Trump also criticized government efforts to make voting more widely available through the mail, saying without evidence it could lead to widespread fraud. There is evidence to suggest that email reconciliation is just as secure as any other method.
Pelosi said any coronavirus bill should contain billions of dollars to protect not only Americans’ right to vote but also essential services like shipping prescription drugs.
“You’d think they’d have a bit of sensitivity, but they’re so obsessed with undermining postal voting that this is their connection there,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “So the president says he is not spending money on postal votes and money on postal services, which is undermining the health of our democracy.”
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany doubled in at a news conference, saying the government is opposed to any additional funding for election security in a coronavirus bill.
A Reuters / Ipsos poll this week found Americans blaming both parties for the stalemate in the negotiations, which has resulted in the expiration of a weekly lifeline of $ 600 for the unemployed and the end of an eviction moratorium.
New Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has donated $ 2.7 million to Trump and his Republicans since 2017, has ordered operational changes and a reduction in overtime to mend the financially ailing postal service that posted a net loss of $ 2.2 billion Dollars in the EU posted last quarter.
These measures have caused delays in mail across the country, which could make voting by mail difficult. Officials of the state elections have tried to expand the postal voting capacity.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Susan Cornwell, and David Morgan; Additional coverage from Andy Sullivan, Jason Lange, Lisa Lambert, Susan Heavey, and David Shepardson in Washington and Trevor Hunnicutt in Delaware; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Scott Malone, Steve Orlofsky, Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis