In an interview today with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, President Trump made comments suggesting he’s holding up the next stimulus package, including a second stimulus check, to block funding for mail-in voting.
Republicans and Democrats have been locked in negotiations over the next stimulus deal. Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), had been negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. With the parties at least $1 trillion apart, negotiations came to halt last Friday.
The next day, President Trump took several executive actions aimed at providing limited relief in the absence of a stimulus package. Since then, there have been no further negotiations.
In an interview with Maria Bartiromo, however, Mr. Trump said that by holding up the next stimulus deal, he’s effectively blocking funding needed for mail-in ballots.
Referring to the Heroes Act that Democrats passed in the House in May, Mr. Trump noted that it includes $25 billion to support the increased demands mail-in voting will place on the United States Postal Service:
“They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically. They want 3.5 trillion — billion dollars for the mail-in votes, OK, universal mail-in ballots, 3.5 trillion. They want $25 billion, billion, for the post office. 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 then noted that without these funds, universal mail-in voting would not be possible: “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.”
He then tied it directly to a stimulus deal:
“Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting.”
Mr. Trump has been critical of universal mail-in voting, claiming today that it would result in the “greatest fraud in history.” Notwithstanding his claim, there’s no evidence that voting by mail results in significant fraud. University of Chicago political scientist Anthony Fowler, who is an expert on elections, says that mail-in voting does introduce new risks. In reality, however, he notes that voter fraud is very rare.
Mr. Trump’s connecting the stimulus bill directly to funding for mail-in voting could further embolden Democrats and make reaching a deal even more difficult.
A deal would need to be reach by tomorrow or perhaps early next week for a stimulus check to still go out this month. Given the lack of negotiations and Mr. Trump’s desire to block funds for mail-in ballots, such a deal is looking less likely.