Money for the Postal Service? The Check’s in the Mail

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  • Democrats and Republicans continue to disagree over whether to fully reinstate the enhanced unemployment benefits that expired at the end of last month, and over how much aid to send to state and local governments.

  • These are the largest — but certainly not the only — disagreements standing in the way of a deal on a new coronavirus relief package.

  • And here’s another: Democrats are insisting that the stimulus bill must include additional funding for the Postal Service, which has been experiencing delays across the country after its Trump-appointed director, Louis DeJoy, instituted cutbacks amid the virus crisis.

  • Democrats and voting advocates have expressed concern that President Trump could be trying to undermine the mail system to complicate mail-in voting, which will be crucial to a safe election in November.

  • Democrats have called for $3.6 billion in the aid package to ensure a secure and safe election, which would include broader mail balloting, but Republicans are opposing such funding.

  • Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said yesterday that the government must resolve the recent delays in mail delivery “in a way that allows mail to be delivered on time for the election and for the necessities that people need.”

  • If Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on something soon, Trump is considering using executive orders to give Americans “additional relief” even without a bill, he told reporters yesterday evening.

  • He floated the possibility of issuing “a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax,” as well as “executive actions to provide protections against eviction” and some extension of the additional unemployment relief.

  • In a presidential campaign, nothing says “climactic” like a party convention. So maybe nothing spells “anticlimactic” quite like moving your party gala onto Zoom.

  • But that’s what the Democratic Party did yesterday, announcing that no national officials would attend the quadrennial festivities in Milwaukee this month. Not Barack Obama, not Nancy Pelosi, not even the expected nominee, Joe Biden. Even national voting delegates have been instructed to attend virtually.

  • Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will be there, as will some Wisconsin Democratic officials, who will speak at the Milwaukee convention center. But otherwise, speeches will be delivered by video address.

  • “From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” Perez said. “That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves.”

  • Historically, party conventions tend to result in a multiple-percentage-point bounce for a candidate’s poll numbers, so switching to a scaled-down, mostly virtual gathering would seem like a liability for Democrats.

  • But so far, with the public holding a broadly unfavorable view of Trump and of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Biden hasn’t needed to grab the spotlight in order to maintain a sizable polling lead.

  • When it comes to the Republican convention, officials haven’t committed to keeping national figures away. The G.O.P.’s gathering is still scheduled to take place in Charlotte, N.C., this month, and the planning of the convention has been subject to plenty of virus-related complications too.

  • Late last month, Trump abruptly called off plans to move some events to Florida, saying, “We won’t do a big, crowded convention, per se — it’s not the right time for that.” He and his advisers are working up ideas on how to deliver a forceful speech despite the mitigating circumstances — possibly from a remote location.

  • Trump’s campaign announced yesterday that it had raked in $165 million in July in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, regaining its fund-raising lead after two months in which the Biden campaign and the D.N.C. came out on top. Biden’s team said it had pulled in $140 million in July.

  • In both cases, the totals were far greater than for the campaigns four years ago, when neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton broke $90 million in July, reflecting the ballooning costs of campaigns in a Citizens United-era political world and the unusual energy surrounding the 2020 race.

  • Biden’s camp also announced yesterday that it had bought a whopping $280 million in ads across TV and digital platforms, by far the biggest single purchase of the year by either campaign.

  • It was a reminder of how much Biden’s financial fortunes have changed since the primary campaign, when he struggled to match the fund-raising totals of his Democratic rivals.

  • Chicago officials said yesterday that the city’s public schools would begin the fall semester remotely, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot acquiesced to pressure from teachers and parents.

  • This leaves New York City as the only major school system in the country that will try to hold in-person classes when school reopens next month. Twenty of the 25 biggest school districts in the country have now committed to going fully remote, at least at the start of the semester.

  • In Chicago, the virus has been spreading more rapidly in the weeks since Lightfoot announced a plan to bring students back on a hybrid basis, keeping classes socially distanced by having students attend two days a week. Over the past few days, more than 250 new cases have been confirmed in the city each day.

  • In some districts where schools have already resumed in-person classes, infections have quickly spread. Some schools have had to shut down temporarily to prevent further outbreaks.

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