President Trump threatened to block the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package if Congress included emergency aid to the United States Postal Service, The Washington Post reported this weekend.
“We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it,” an unnamed Trump administration official told the Post. “I don’t know if we used the v-bomb [a veto threat], but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.”
Lawmakers reportedly had originally agreed to provide $13 billion to the Postal Service in the form of a direct grant that would not have to be repaid. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin blocked that idea, reportedly telling congressional negotiators, “You can have a loan, or you can have nothing at all.”
In the end, the legislation included a $10 billion loan from the Treasury Department to the postal service.
‘A critical juncture’: Plummeting volumes of first-class and marketing mail as a result of the pandemic have worsened the already shaky finances of the Postal Service, which employs more than 600,000 people. “We are at a critical juncture in the life of the Postal Service,” Postmaster General Megan Brennan said in a statement Friday. “At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business.”
In a video briefing to members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee last week, Brennan said that the Postal Service would run out of money this fiscal year without federal aid. Brennan said that the Postal Service expects to lose $13 billion in revenue this year as a result of the pandemic, and an additional $54 billion in losses over the next decade.
“The Postal Service is holding on for dear life, and unless Congress and the White House provide meaningful relief in the next stimulus bill, the Postal Service could cease to exist," Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said in a statement.
Brennan asked for $25 billion in emergency funding to offset lost revenue due to the virus and $25 billion for modernization projects, plus a $25 billion Treasury loan. But the Trump administration has reportedly made it clear that a bailout for the Postal Service would scuttle efforts to reach a broader stimulus deal.
The Post’s Jacob Bogage reported:
“While the Trump Administration and Mnuchin pushed through private-sector bailouts in the Cares Act — $350 billion to the Small Business Administration loan program, $29 billion to passenger airlines and air cargo carriers, and economic incentives for the construction, energy and life sciences industries, among others — Mnuchin has signaled any postal relief funds in a ‘Phase IV’ stimulus package under negotiation would amount to a poison pill.”