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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday night touted a $3.6 billion vote-by-mail proposal – which she rechristened “Voting at Home” – and defended a planned $25 billion bailout for the U.S. Postal Service.
Pelosi talked about the legislation during an appearance on MSNBC just hours after President Trump warned the states of Michigan and Nevada against implementing absentee-ballot and vote-by-mail plans, arguing the proposals were illegal and could potentially facilitate voter fraud.
In both cases, the president threatened to withhold federal dollars from the states if they went ahead with their plans.
The legality of using mail ballots is already the basis of a lawsuit in Texas, in which a federal judge sided with Democrats in allowing the forms to be sent out to voters. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately announced his office was appealing the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Meantime, Trump has repeatedly criticized the Postal Service, calling it a “joke” and claiming it undercharges online retail giants such as Amazon. The president has said he will not support any bailout legislation for the Postal Service if the organization does not raise its service rates to generate more revenue.
But in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Pelosi stressed that the Democrats’ vote-by-mail proposal was aimed at making voting more convenient and safe for Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic – allowing them to participate in elections from home without exposing themselves to risk of contracting the virus.
“We’re now calling it ‘Voting at Home’ because that’s really what it’s all about -- enabling people to vote at home,” Pelosi told host Lawrence O’Donnell.
She said the plan calls for the implementation of same-day voter registration and the distribution of absentee ballots for all voters. She said those with disabilities or those with concerns about the coronavirus would benefit from the plan.
“Standing in those lines, for that amount of time, going to places that are enclosed, is dangerous to your health,” Pelosi said, referring to the idea of in-person voting on Election Day.
She asserted that vote-by-mail was “more democratic.”
“It gives people more options, it removes obstacles and barriers to voting, which is what we want to do,” she said.
Neither Pelosi nor O’Donnell addressed the president’s point about possible voter fraud through mail-in ballots.
As for supporting the continued operation of the Postal Service, Pelosi claimed 90 percent of U.S. military veterans receive their medications through the Postal Service.
“So this is a health issue in addition to a convenience issue for the American people in terms of shelter-in-place and ordering whatever they order through the mail as a convenience to them,” Pelosi said.
She also claimed that the proposed cash infusion for the Postal Service had backing from its board of governors, all of them Trump appointees.
But despite his criticism of the Postal Service, the president said in April that he had no intention of seeing the service go under.
“I will never let our Post Office fail,” Trump wrote April 24. “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!”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Marisa Schultz contributed to this story.