President Donald Trump said he would refuse to sign the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package if it contained funding for the United States Postal Service, according to a report Saturday from The Washington Post.
"We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it," a Trump administration official told the Post. "I don't know if we used the v-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that."
In addition to the senior White House official, The Washington Post reported a congressional official also confirmed the president threatened to refuse to sign the $2.2 trillion stimulus package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act if it contained any relief money for the postal service.
As The Post reported, Sens. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, and Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, added a last-minute $10 billion loan to keep the postal service function in the short-term. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said lawmakers' plan to offer $13 billion in funding to the postal service could derail the entire package.
"You can have a loan or you can have nothing at all," Mnuchin said
As Business Insider previously reported, lawmakers last month warned that the postal service could shut down in less than three months.
"Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House," Reps. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, and Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement.
A halt in USPS operations could have varying consequences from preventing access to medication to impacting voters who cast ballots by mail as state lawmakers consider expanding main-in-voting due to the pandemic.
In a statement Friday, Megan Brennan, postmaster general & CEO of USPS said it estimated a net operating loss of over $22 billion dollars over the next eighteen months, and by over $54 billion dollars in "the longer term."
"As Congress and the Administration take steps to support businesses and industries around the country, it is imperative that they also take action to shore up the finances of the Postal Service, and enable us to continue to fulfill our indispensable role during the pandemic, and to play an effective role in the nation's economic recovery," Brennan said.
The postal service and its board of governors is asking Congress for a $50 billion bailout as well as $25 billion in loans from the Treasury Department. The president on Tuesday blamed online retailers — like Amazon — for killing the postal service, which has for years reported losses unrelated to its COVID-19 struggles.
"This is the new one. I'm the demise of the Postal Service," Trump said. "I'll tell you who's the demise of the Postal Service, are these internet companies that give their stuff to the Postal Service."
About 500 USPS workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 462 others are presumed positive, postal service leaders told lawmakers, according to The Washington Post. More than 6,000 are in self-quarantine due to potential exposure and 19 have died, according to the report.