It is now clear that there won’t be any coronavirus relief package this week or possibly this month as well. The reason for the collapse of talks is known to be the difference over several provisions, as well as the size of the package. However, it is possible that President Donald Trump is blocking the deal and the coronavirus stimulus checks because of mail-in voting.
Speaking to Fox Business on Thursday, Trump suggested that he is holding up the coronavirus relief package, including the stimulus checks, to block funding for mail-in voting.
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Trump, during the interview, made reference to the Democrats-backed HEROES Act. The proposal includes $3.5 billion to assist the United States Postal Service to carry out mail-in voting effectively. Further, the proposal also includes $25 billion for the post office.
“They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically,” Trump said.
Trump said that if they don’t get these funds, it would make mail-in voting impossible. “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,” he said.
Trump has been against the universal mail-in voting, even claiming that it would result in the “greatest fraud in history." However, there is no evidence that voting by mail leads to widespread fraud.
Trump connecting the coronavirus relief package with the funding for mail-in voting could make anyone believe that he is holding up the stimulus checks because of this. However, this may not be the real reason for the failure of talks.
Many believe that a major reason for no deal is Democrats’ demands for aid to state and local governments. Democrats want $1 trillion in additional funding for states and municipalities. The Republicans, however, don’t want the entire relief package to exceed $1 trillion.
Democrats were initially asking for a relief package costing over $3 trillion. After the negotiations, they said they are willing to come down by a trillion dollars. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, dismissed the Democrats’ compromise offer by referring to it as a “non-starter.”
Earlier this week, however, Mnuchin indicated that the White House may offer more money for the coronavirus package, provided Democrats’ make a "fair" offer.
Each side is blaming the other over the failure to reach a deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a news conference on Thursday, said: “It’s no wonder we have a vast difference because this administration, other Republicans in Congress have never understood the gravity of this situation.”
Around the same time as Pelosi was speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats for coming up with a "completely unrealistic, far-left proposal" and holding up the negotiations.