It’s no secret that President Donald Trump opposes mail-in voting, or that his refusal to bail out the United States Postal Service is inherently intertwined with the upcoming election. For several months, the president has taken a hard stance against the practice of voting by mail as millions of people gear up to send in ballots due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But after months of railing against mail-in voting — with repeated false claims the practice causes widespread voter fraud — Trump just escalated his tirade against the USPS.
Since April, the president has starved the USPS of federal financial assistance, refusing to bail out the institution in Congress’ $2 trillion stimulus package. At the time, the move was considered a blow to voting rights as millions of Americans would rely on the service this November when casting their ballots. Now, the president is making his position on the matter very clear. Speaking with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, Trump says his refusal to bail out USPS is tied to the fact that funding for the institution would serve mail-in voting in the presidential election.
"[Democrats] want 3 and a half billion dollars for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money, basically. They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes, okay, universal mail-in ballots,” Trump told Bartiromo. “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.” He added that if the funding isn’t secured, “that means you can't have universal mail-in voting.”
Many have wondered how Trump will attempt to sabotage mail-in voting and make good on his threat to delay the election. Though it seems now that Trump's being quite upfront about that plan — and it's going to be by stripping the USPS of financial support by all means.
But the battle against the post office isn't a new one for Trump: The USPS has long been in financial trouble, and Trump has offered little support. In 2006, the Bush administration passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act to reorganize the agency. The law mandated that USPS pay employees health and retirement benefits in advance, expand delivery to six days a week, and prohibited the service from increasing the price of postage faster than the inflation rate. In the end, USPS lost more than $69 billion over an 11-year period.
Without any federal assistance, the agency could collapse, contributing to nationwide voter suppression. In their proposed HEROES Act, a second stimulus package to address financial hardship and losses due to the pandemic, House Democrats asked for $3.6 billion in “election resilience grants,” and $25 billion in funding for USPS for lost revenue. The bill also outlined provisions mandating that U.S. voters receive ballots by mail in times of emergency, for instance, when the country is shut down due to a public health crisis.
But Trump is treating the measure as an attack on his presidency, and as such, has ramped up his efforts to starve USPS of any federal bailout.
Still, Senate Democrats are fighting back. In a letter addressed to the Trump-appointed Postmaster Louis DeJoy, senators warned that any changes “made to long-standing practices of moving election mail just months ahead of the 2020 general election …. will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.” It's up to the people to continue that fight and keep up the pressure until November 3.