President Trump on Saturday blasted House Democrats as they passed legislation that would send $25billion in emergency funds to the US Postal Service in the run-up to the November election.
Despite the president’s rebukes, more than two dozen Republicans broke from Trump to vote with Democrats to pass the bill in a rare Saturday session.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had advised voters to ‘ignore’ the president’s warning about the security of mail-in ballots.
‘Representatives of the Post Office have repeatedly stated that they DO NOT NEED MONEY, and will not make changes,’ the president tweeted in anger on Saturday before the vote took place.
‘This is all another HOAX by the Democrats to give 25 Billion unneeded dollars for political purposes, without talking about the Universal Mail-In Ballot Scam that they are trying to pull off in violation of everything that our Country stands for.
‘Vote NO to the Pelosi/ Schumer money wasting HOAX which is taking place now.’
Trump then added: ‘Then fight the $51 million unasked for Ballots. Only ABSENTEE BALLOTS are acceptable!’
Despite Trump’s comments, absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are the same.
The president was reacting to the rare Saturday session called into order by the Democrat-led House of Representatives over mail delivery disruptions.
Pelosi’s conference approved legislation that would reverse recent changes in U.S. Postal Service operations and send $25billion in emergency funds to shore up the agency ahead of the November election.
In total 26 Republicans broke with the president and backed the bill, which passed 257-150.
Democrats led approval, but the legislation is certain to stall in the GOP-held Senate. The White House said the president would veto it.
Saturday’s debate became heated at times as Republicans accused Democrats of ‘mailbox myths’ and insisted the USPS has enough money until 2021.
‘The Postal Service is not incapacitated. It is still fully capable of delivering the mail,’ said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
‘Like the Russia hoax and impeachment sham, the Democrats have manufactured another scandal for political purposes,’ added Rep. James Comer.
Yet Democrats hit back with Rep. Gerald E. Connolly claiming that the country is facing the ‘largest voter suppression in American history since Jim Crow’.
‘Why are we here? Because the president of the United States says he’s going to defund the Postal Service,’ said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney.
Pelosi recalled lawmakers to Washington for the debate over objections from Republicans.
‘Don’t pay any attention to what the president is saying, because it is all designed to suppress the vote,’ Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.
She called the Postal Service the nation’s ‘beautiful thread’ connecting Americans and said voters should ‘ignore’ the president´s threats.
The daylong Saturday session came as an uproar over mail interference puts the Postal Service at the center of the nation´s tumultuous election year, with Americans rallying around one of the nation’s oldest and more popular institutions.
Millions of people are expected to opt for mail-in ballots to avoid polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.
New Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified Friday in the Senate that his ‘No. 1 priority’ is to ensure election mail arrives on time.
But the new postal leader, a Trump ally, said he would not restore the cuts to mailboxes and sorting equipment that have already been made. He could not provide senators with a plan for handling the ballot crush for the election.
‘We are here today because our democracy is being eroded by this administration,’ said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the rules committee, opening debate.
He argued that Trump is trying to halt mail-in ballots, afraid that so many Americans will vote he could lose the White House.
But Republicans countered that complaints about mail delivery disruptions are overblown, and no emergency funding is needed right now.
‘Do we need that money? Absolutely no,’ said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. ‘It´s a silly, silly bill.’ Cole also called the proposal a joke.
Republicans spoke out against Democratic efforts to get money to the Post Office on Saturday, Fox News reports.
‘I am again on the floor of the House of Representatives watching a cartoon,’ said Rep. Steve Womack, a Republican from Arkansas. ‘About the only outcome this debate is going to have today is one of entertainment value – nothing substantive.’
Despite the postmaster general’s vow election mail will arrive on time, Democrats remain skeptical the Postal Service has the resources it needs to handle the onslaught during the pandemic crisis. They are pushing ahead with legislation to be sure.
In a memo to House Republicans, leaders derided the legislation as a postal ‘conspiracy theory’ act.
Nevertheless, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is eyeing a $10 billion postal rescue as part of the next COVID-19 relief package. While Trump has said he wants to block emergency funding for the agency, the White House has said it would be open to more postal funding as part of a broader bill.
The Postal Service has been struggling financially under a decline in mail volume, COVID-19-related costs and a rare and cumbersome congressional requirement to fund in advance its retiree health care benefits.
For many, the Postal Service provides a lifeline, delivering not just cards and letters but also prescription drugs, financial statements and other items that are especially needed by mail during the pandemic.
The postal board of governors, appointed by Trump, selected DeJoy to take the job as postmaster general. A GOP donor, he previously owned a logistics business that was a longtime Postal Service contractor. He maintains significant financial stakes in companies that do business or compete with the agency, raising conflict of interest questions.
In a statement, the Postal Service said DeJoy has made all required financial disclosures, but he might have to divest some holdings if conflicts arise.
Republicans have long sought changes to have the agency run more like a private company, and Trump often complains the Postal Service should be charging Amazon and other companies higher rates for package deliveries. The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, a publication that Trump frequently derides as ‘fake news’ over critical stories of him.
Others say the Postal Service is not expected to be solely a money-making enterprise, often delivering to far-flung places where it is not efficient to operate.