The coronavirus pandemic has left a tremendous number of businesses across the country without the revenue they’re used to. For the U.S. Postal Service, its losses in revenue — both from the pandemic and long predating it — present a different kind of challenge. The Postal Service isn’t a private company, it’s a federal agency, so the ways to solve its financial problems are murkier.
While Congress has stepped in to include a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service in the Cares Act relief package, the service has not yet seen that money.
Last week, President Trump threatened to block that $10 billion loan unless the Postal Service dramatically raised shipping costs for online retailers. Trump has urged the Postal Service to increase prices long before the coronavirus crisis began. His latest move though, the threat to block the agency’s loan, reflects an unprecedented attempt to seize control of this agency — notably America’s most popular government agency, according to the Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, time is running out. The Postal Service projects it could lose $23 billion over the next 18 months.
So, can the president withhold money from a federal agency until it complies with his requests?
And how are things different for the Postal Service that is tasked with operating from its own revenue and not federal dollars? Plus, as we head toward the November election in an era of social distancing, what might financial strain at the Postal Service mean for Americans’ access to mail-in ballots?
On this episode of the“Can He Do That?” podcast, reporter Jacob Bogage details Trump’s desire to withhold a loan from the Postal Service, and elections administration expert Amber McReynolds discusses the challenges of an election likely to rely more than ever on vote by mail.
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