Throughout it all, Trump continues to embrace tactics that seem intended only to fire up his base. On Saturday, his focus was on the Postal Service and the Food and Drug Administration.
The President’s unwavering campaign to erode public confidence in long-trusted institutions knows no end. But his assault on mail-in voting in the midst of a pandemic has dragged on for months, and there are clear signs that some GOP lawmakers are losing their patience with his tactics.
And although the vote on additional funding in the Democrat-controlled House Saturday evening was largely along party lines, the more than two dozen Republicans who joined the Democrats included vulnerable members trying to shore up their support before they face voters this fall, moderates, and even members from deep-red districts who are clearly feeling the heat from their constituents on the Postal Service slowdowns.
The bipartisan Board of Governors that oversees the post office proposed the $25 billion figure saying the money is needed for the post office to continue normal operations and maintain normal delivery speeds. Still, Trump inaccurately tweeted on Saturday evening that representatives of the post office “have repeatedly stated that they DO NOT NEED MONEY and will not make changes.”
“This is all another HOAX by the Democrats to give $25 billion unneeded dollars for political purposes without talking about the Universal Mail-in Ballot scam…. that they are trying to pull off in violation of everything that our Country stands for,” Trump said.
In a floor speech Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that the Trump administration’s operational changes to the Postal Service “degrade service, delay the mail and threaten to disenfranchise voters, particularly in communities of color.”
She told the story of a veteran with epilepsy in her district who told her the prescriptions sent by the VA through the mail are now taking twice as long to arrive.
“This is immediate in their lives. We are their Representatives,” the California Democrat said, arguing for the passage of the legislation in spite of the President’s veto threat. “For the sake of every senior who is delayed in getting his or her Social Security check; every veteran who is delayed in getting his or her medication; every working family who is delayed in getting their paycheck; and every voter now facing the prospect of choosing between their vote and their health, we need to pass this bill.”
McConnell criticized the “piecemeal” approach that he said ignored the needs of families struggling in the pandemic. He charged Pelosi with “blocking billions in relief for American families and laid-off workers” due to the stalemate in negotiations on the next stimulus package.
“As soon as House Democrats convinced themselves their own jobs might be in jeopardy, they came sprinting back to Washington to pass a totally piecemeal postal bill without a dime to help struggling families,” McConnell said, ignoring the fact that Republicans had also voted for the measure.
A new conspiracy theory about the FDA
Earlier on Saturday, the President suggested without any evidence that unnamed employees at the FDA are purposefully slowing the process of developing and approving a vaccine.
He called out FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, whom he appointed — the latest example of his willingness to target his own advisers if he does not think they are helping his political ambitions.
“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA.”
Though Trump has repeatedly said that he hopes a vaccine will be ready before the end of this year, vaccinologists interviewed by CNN have said that timeline is unrealistic.
Now, like so many other Trump advisers with medical or scientific expertise, Hahn finds himself ensnared in a Trump conspiracy theory as the President presses for a miracle that will help him win reelection this fall in the form of a live-saving treatment or a vaccine for Covid-19.
The FDA did not respond to CNN’s request for comment Saturday.
On Twitter, Trump mischaracterized Biden’s remarks, not mentioning Biden’s qualification that he would shut down the country if scientists made the recommendation.
The President tweeted Saturday evening that “despite biggest job gains and a ‘V’ shaped recovery, Joe Biden said, ‘I would shut it down’, referring to our Country. He has no clue!”