- The Washington Times - Friday, August 14, 2020

President Trump said Friday he’s open to additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service and vote-by-mail efforts if Democrats move in the administration’s direction on other items in a broader coronavirus relief package.

“Sure, if they give us what we want. And it’s not what I want — it’s what the American people want,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “I would certainly do that, sure.”

He said he was making preparations to send out another round of direct payments to Americans and provide more money for small businesses and schools but that Democrats were standing in the way of a broader deal.

“It’s all ready to go — Democrats are holding it up,” he said.

Mr. Trump said this week that without a comprehensive relief package, Democrats weren’t going to get the $25 billion for the post office and $3.5 billion for vote-by-mail efforts that they’re seeking.

The president said that without the additional funding, expanded vote-by-mail efforts during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to work.

Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, said Mr. Trump is intentionally crippling the post office to try to thwart vote-by-mail and increase his reelection prospects.

Shortly after Mr. Trump indicated he’s open to a deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said the president “made plain that he will manipulate the operations of the Post Office to deny eligible voters the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election.”

“The president’s own words confirm: he needs to cheat to win,” the Democratic leaders said.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer called on U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to reverse recent operational changes the leaders said have resulted in delays and service reductions.

The Postal Service is warning states across the country that the agency can’t guarantee that mail-in ballots for the November election are going to arrive in time to be counted.

In one letter, dated July 30, USPS general counsel and executive vice president Thomas J. Marshall warned North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall that there is a risk “that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them.”North Carolina voters have until 5 p.m. on Oct. 27 — one week before Election Day, Nov. 3 — to request an absentee ballot.

Mr. Marshall said voters in the state who choose to mail their ballots should do so no later than Friday, Oct. 30.

Absentee ballots count in North Carolina if they are postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Rules vary in other states.

The Washington Post reported Friday that the postal service sent similar letters to 45 other states and the District of Columbia, but that the warnings had been in the works before Mr. DeJoy was picked as the new postmaster general in early May.

House Democrats have been pushing a nearly $3.5 trillion relief package they passed in May that included the $25 billion for the post office.

Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Trump’s negotiators — Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — appeared to settle on $10 billion for the post office in their most recent round of talks.

But they couldn’t strike an overall deal and Congress effectively adjourned until after Labor Day without passing new legislation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said earlier Friday that the postal service will have the funding it needs.

“You’re not hearing anything on our side about withholding money — the president’s making a case about the mail-in but the president did not put a veto threat in it,” the California Republican said on CNBC.

Mr. Trump had also said Thursday that he wouldn’t automatically veto a postal service funding bill.

“The postal service will have the funding that it needs and we’ll make sure of that,” Mr. McCarthy said. “We want to make sure that we have an accurate election. I think any Republican that gets their ballot in the mail should vote that and make sure that their vote is counted. Trace it — make sure that is the person voting.”

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