Trump rejects calls to reverse Postal Service changes, but says he won't veto funding bill
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump continued his longstanding tirade against mail-in voting ahead of the Nov. 3 election at Thursday's White House press briefing.
"Again absentee good, universal mail-in very bad," Trump told reporters.
Trump said at the briefing, however, he would not veto a funding bill that would give the U.S. Postal Service's financial woes a boost as its news Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, implements a number of directives that critics say have disrupted normal operating procedures and slowed down the mail delivery.
Trump said he would not reverse the directives DeJoy has implemented.
“All they have to do is make a deal,” Trump said of Democrats, who have requested at least $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.
This comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized the president's opposition to voting by mail Thursday, calling it a “contradiction” and saying his position on U.S. Postal Service funding is harmful to Americans who rely on the agency for services beyond voting.
"The president's family was all out in California urging absentee ballot during the special election in the spring, so this is, nonetheless, yet again, shall we say, another contradiction," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
When asked if there was any chance Democrats would agree to another round of coronavirus relief legislation if it did not include funding for the Postal Service, Pelosi said Republican negotiators were "losing it in some respect."
“They’re not facing the facts," Pelosi added, highlighting that Americans rely on the Postal Service for services such as receiving prescription drugs.
“They’re hurting seniors," she said. "It’s a health issue in 2019, it's even more so in the time of the pandemic. So when the president goes after the Postal Service, he’s going after an all-American, highly-approved, by-the-public institution."
In an interview with Fox Business Network earlier Thursday morning, Trump acknowledged that expanding vote-by-mail in November would be difficult if Republicans successfully blocked the Democrats' push to better fund the Postal Service.
House Democrats have demanded that any final pandemic spending bill roll back recent operational changes at the agency and give it $25 billion in one-time funding. Democrats are also seeking $3.6 billion in funds for mail-in voting in the next major relief bill.
"Now, 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. "But 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."
Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign said Thursday that Trump's stance amounted to "an assault on our democracy and economy."
"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 — a crisis so devastatingly worsened by his own failed leadership that we are now the hardest hit country in the world by the coronavirus pandemic," the campaign's rapid response director, Andrew Bates, said in a statement.
"Even Donald Trump's own campaign has endorsed voting by mail, and his own administration has conclusively refuted his wild-eyed conspiracy theories about the most secure form of voting," Bates said.
Speaking at a press conference later Thursday morning, Pelosi again addressed the president's comments about the Postal Service, saying efforts to make the agency less functional were "undermining the health of our democracy."
Pelosi added that the $25 billion in proposed funding was recommended by the Postal Service's board of governors — each of whom was appointed by Trump.
"But so obsessed are [Trump and Republicans] to undermine absentee voting, this is their connection there," she said.