With a Monday evening tweet, the Trump administration completed a very public flip-flop on the President’s stance on the postal service just days after he candidly explained that he was blocking its funding.
SAVE THE POST OFFICE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2020
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ Monday morning comments presaged the President’s new message.
“As he’s already mentioned to Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi the other day is that he’s willing to put the resources necessary to make sure the mail is processed,” Meadows said on CNN.
He promised that Trump would sign a bill that includes USPS funding, adding that he wants the Democrats to include other COVID relief measures as well. Democrats have so far rejected the “piecemeal” approach, insisting on an expansive and comprehensive relief package, and are so far planning to vote on a standalone USPS funding bill on Saturday.
The new posture is strikingly different from Trump’s last week, when he spoke bluntly about his refusal to green-light a COVID relief package that would include $25 billion for the USPS.
“Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said Thursday, adding: “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.” Trump has consistently gone after various aspects of voting by mail, asserting baselessly that the system is rife with fraud.
His comments added to a nationwide tsunami of building outrage and renewed scrutiny of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump ally and former Republican mega-donor.
DeJoy, who started the job in June, has laid out a comprehensive agency overhaul that will leave employees’ hours cut and high-volume mail processors removed. Amid those changes, the postal service sent out letters to 46 states and Washington D.C. warning that it may not be able to turn around ballots fast enough for them to be counted in November, the Washington Post reported late last week.
Those sweeping changes—on top of the hardships the USPS was already facing for this election—have Democrats crying foul, accusing the President of trying to further undermine the agency before what is sure to be a heavily-mail election. The House Oversight Committee called on DeJoy to testify publicly about the changes, which he agreed to do next Monday. A slew of top Democrats also requested reams of documents and records from DeJoy on the overhaul due by Friday.
“Rather than strongly advocating for the Postal Service’s request for emergency funding, it appears that you are now using funding shortfalls—which are being aggravated by the President himself—to justify sweeping operational changes that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail, jeopardize crucial deliveries such as prescription medicines and essential goods, and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections,” the Democrats wrote.