President Donald Trump made it clear Thursday that he would not approve additional funding for the postal service because he does not want to facilitate universal mail-in voting, something Democrats are pushing hard with the COVID-19 pandemic still active.
The president told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business that USPS funding is one of the major items holding up COVID-19 relief package negotiations. While many Americans and businesses are struggling under continued economic restrictions, Congress might not get a deal done until September.
"[Democrats] want three and a half billion dollars for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money, basically," Trump said. "They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes, okay, universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the Post office.
"Now they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all these millions and millions of ballots," Trump said. "Now in the meantime, they aren't getting there—by the way, those are just two items, but if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting."
Trump this morning why he won’t fund US Postal Service. “Now they need that money in order to make the post office… https://t.co/LtNrInhkS5— The Recount (@The Recount) 1597323950.0
The battle over USPS funding has been going on for months. In April, the Washington Post reported that Congress was planning to give the USPS a $13 billion grant in the first stimulus package, before Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told them the bill wouldn't get signed with that funding included.
With the election less than three months away and no indication that COVID-19 will be gone by then, the urgency has increased for Democrats who want to give voters everywhere the option to vote without having to risk virus exposure at a polling place.
Trump and other Republicans view universal mail-in voting as too vulnerable to fraud. At one point, Trump even suggested delaying the election rather than having everyone vote by mail.
Five states had universal mail-in voting before COVID-19. Four other states and Washington, D.C., will send out mail-in ballots to voters this year due to the pandemic. Ten more states send out applications to voters so they can apply to vote by mail.
Trump has pointed to a recent primary election in New York City as an example of the pitfalls of widespread mail-in voting. A Democratic congressional primary wasn't called for more than six weeks due to issues with mail-in ballots, and more than 20% of ballots received were not counted for various reasons.