Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), saif he will introduce legislation to protect the U.S. Postal Service from what he described as efforts by the Trump administration to sabotage the system to help the president win re-election. Credit: Charles Eckert

Officials from Congress and the White House continued to spar Sunday over Democratic calls to fund the Postal Service with billions of dollars more, money the party said is key to making sure that mail-in ballots are processed securely on Election Day.

Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said on CNN that President Donald Trump was open to signing off on more aid for the Postal Service. But Meadows needled the Democrats into supporting the Republicans' version of a fifth coronavirus stimulus package.

In May, the Democratic-led House passed a $3.5 trillion wide-ranging relief bill. In July, Republicans proposed a $1 trillion plan. Earlier this month, Trump bypassed negotiations by signing an executive order authorizing $400-a-week in enhanced unemployment insurance payments, down from the $600-a-week provided earlier in the pandemic.

House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain far off on terms of a new deal, including how much the federal government should provide to individuals, businesses, and local governments.

Meadows said on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump "doesn't have a problem with anyone voting by mail." He said Trump opposes universal vote-by-mail elections, in which ballots are mailed to all registered voters in a state. Several states have conducted elections this way in prior years.

Meadows said of the post office aid dispute, "this will all go away" if Democrats agree with Republicans on a coronavirus relief bill. But Democrats for months have urged Senate Republicans to pass the House plan. "If the Democrats feel like this is a big issue ... let's put it with a stimulus check to go to Americans." He added, "He will sign that ... whether it's $10 billion or $25 billion or something in between, we can do that."

"Are they willing to put forth a stimulus check in every American citizen's hands, are they willing to do that, couple that with the postal reform ... if they're willing to lead on that, the president is willing to sign it."

On Thursday, Trump told Fox Business Network: “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,” Trump said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday he will introduce legislation to protect the U.S. Postal Service from what he described as efforts by the Trump administration to sabotage the system to help the president win re-election.

Officials are bracing for a deluge of mailed ballots in November’s presidential election, with the coronavirus pandemic likely leading large chunks of the electorate to avoid voting in person. But Trump has criticized voting by mail, asserting without evidence that it is susceptible to fraud.

Speaking at a news conference in Manhattan, Schumer said the Postal Service, headed by Trump-appointee Louis DeJoy, has eliminated overtime for postal workers and shut down mail-sorting machines, which is slowing the pace of delivery.

Meadows said on CNN, "there's no sorting machines that are going offline between now and the election." Tapper then pressed Meadows to acknowledge machines that have come offline this year, and Meadows said that was not under "a new initiative by this postmaster general."

Meadows said he feared that with universal mail-in ballots, a "disaster" would ensue "where we won't know the election results on November 3, and we might not know it for months."

In that event, he said, "the Constitution says that then Nancy Pelosi and the House would actually pick the president on January 20."

Schumer said his proposed legislation will require the Postal Service to treat mailed ballots as first-class mail, restore overtime and put mail-sorting machines back in use.

Schumer also demanded the Senate hold hearings and require DeJoy and the head of the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission to testify. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has called for DeJoy's resignation, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that Democrats were not driving a "stalemate."

"Democrats sat down, Mitch McConnell did not participate in the negotiations," Sanders said. Referring to the White House and Republican officials, Sanders said "Their job was to stymie and make sure there were no agreements because half of the Republicans in the United States Senate do not want to contribute another nickel to American workers' health during this crisis. That's the reality." 

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

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