President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a $484 billion economic measure designed to give additional relief to small businesses feeling the squeeze from the coronavirus.
Surrounded by Republican lawmakers and members of his administration – who were visibly closer than social distancing guidelines recommended – Trump used the occasion to take shots at the U.S. Postal Service.
The president has refused to allow government funding for the post office to be included in any of the relief packages passed by Congress, threatening to veto any that contained it.
‘The Post Office is a joke,’ Trump said Friday in the Oval Office during the bill signing ceremony.
After he berated the federal agency the president took to Twitter to announce his support for the postal service.
‘I will never let our Post Office fail. It has been mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the internet and modern-day technology. The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!,’ he wrote.
President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a $484 billion economic measure designed to give additional relief to small businesses
Guests at the signing did not appear to be social distancing
President Trump has long railed against e-commerce companies like Amazon using the post office for delivers
The Postal Service has sunk into debt over the years because more people are using online methods to pay bills and stay in touch with people
The Postal Service has struggled financially for years, being hit hard as people use electronic methods to pay bills and communicate with one another. The coronavirus has also hit the service, causing revenue to go down about 30 per cent.
Trump has complained about mismanagement at the Postal Service and argues it has been exploited by e-commerce sites such as Amazon. He has repeatedly said it should raise their prices.
‘They are handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they bring a package, they lose money on it,’ he said during Friday’s bill signing. ‘The post office should raise the price of a package by approximately four times.’
He charged the post office won’t do so because of its ‘cozy’ relationship with e-commerce companies.
‘For some reason they are very cozy with some of these companies. They don’t raise the price of a package. If they raised the price of a package, like they should, four or five times, that’s what it should be. Or let Amazon build their own post office, which would be an impossible thing to do,’ he said.
‘If they raised the price of a package by approximately four times, it would be a whole new ball game. But they don’t want to raise it because they don’t want to insult Amazon and they don’t want to insult other companies,’ he added.
The president said he wouldn’t sign an additional funding for the post office until it raises its rate.
‘If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything. They’ll raise the price, so they become maybe even profitable, but so they lose much less money. If they don’t do it, I’m not signing anything,’ he said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that lawmakers were told the order for no Postal Service bailout in coronavirus relief packages came directly from the president.
‘They told me, it came right from the president: No money for the post office,’ she said at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.
‘Right now I see a very big danger for our country, in the form of the Trump administration’s interest in privatizing the post office. This is just about somebody on the outside, making money off of the post office, instead of recognizing the important role that the post office played,’ she said.
Lawmakers wanted to include a $13 billion direct grant the Postal Service would not have to repay in the $2.2 trillion rescue package the president signed into law earlier this month.
But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that was a no go and the best that could be done was a loan. Lawmakers included a $10 billion loan given through the Treasury Department that the post office must pay back.
Mnuchin said Treasury would use the terms and conditions on giving that money to the post office to make it change how much it charges for deliveries.
‘We’re going to put certain criteria for a postal reform program as part of the loan. We are looking forward, they are recruiting a new postmaster general and doing postal reform,’ he said Friday. Mnuchin was in the Oval Office for the bill signing.
Trump has long been antagonistic of the post office, calling it once in a tweet Amazon’s ‘delivery boy.’
President Trump signed the bill the day after the House passed it
Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the president for not helping the Post Office
Speaker Nancy Pelosi wore a face scarf – as do her aides and her security detail – in the Capitol
The Postal Service often serves as a vendor for Amazon, UPS, FedEx and other shipping companies, delivering the ‘last mile’ service to often rural and remote areas, which is critical to its business.
The deliveries have revitalized the service, which saw its revenue decline in the internet age. But the postal service remains mired in debt.
At Friday’s bill signing in the Oval Office, Trump was joined by Republican lawmakers. No Democrats were present.
Standing in a semi-circle around the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, the lawmakers and administration officials did not appear to be socially distancing.
Trump signed the relief measure after the House passed it on Thursday. Lawmakers adhered to strict social distancing guidelines during the vote. The Senate passed the measure last week by voice vote, meaning most lawmakers did not have to make the trek back to Washington D.C. to be in the Senate chamber.
The fourth coronavirus relief measure include $321 billion for the payment protection program (PPP) to give loans to small businesses. It also provides $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion to expand testing for the coronavirus.
Discussions have begun on a fifth rescue package.
WHAT’S IN THE $484 BILLION CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILL?
The House passed the emergency interim relief package Thursday night after the Senate finally came to an agreement on the legislation and moved it through the upper chamber Tuesday afternoon. Heres where the $484 billion is going:
- $320 billion for Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program
– $125 billion of that will go to the minority and women-owned businesses and ‘little mom-and-pop stores’ that don’t have a good banking connections
- $30 billion to increase production and distribution of coronavirus tests
– $11 billion of that will go to the states to boost testing at a local-level
- $75 billion for hospitals
- $60 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
- Any remaining funds will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies supporting coronavirus mitigation