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White House says House postal bill is for 'messaging'; Mark Meadows sees vehicle for COVID-19 relief

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday the House-passed bill to bolster the Postal Service is a “messaging” bill from Democrats and he’d like to see Senate Republicans amend the legislation to address the coronavirus crisis.

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Mr. Meadows, speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” said the administration offered $10 billion, permission to pay overtime and other reforms the post office. He fumed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for rejecting that and deviating from her stance that negotiations amid the coronavirus pandemic

“And yet have a piecemeal piece of legislation on a Saturday,” Mr. Meadows said.

The Democrats’ bill would infuse the Postal Service with $25 billion in additional funding — an amount suggested by the agency’s board of governors earlier this year — and reverse all new policy changes to revert the agency back to how it was functioning in January.

Republican leaders accused Democrats of making a much bigger deal than necessary out of the Postal Service’s struggles and spreading “mailbox myths.” However, 26 of their members voted for the bill.

Senate Republicans aren’t expected to take up the bill but Mr. Meadows said they could amend it to address the coronavirus crisis. The White House has pushed for things like direct assistance to Americans and an extension of small-business support, though Democrats say they need to see support for schools, to address hunger and funding for state and local governments.

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The Postal Service debate is unfolding ahead of an election in which millions more Americans are expected to vote by mail.

President Trump says absentee ballots are fine but not a universal system in which ballots are sent to a swath of the electorate, prompting accusations he wants to sabotage the Postal Service’s abilities.

He’s raising questions about other methods of voting, too, tweeting on Sunday that mail-drop boxes pose risks.

“So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!” he tweeted.

Mr. Trump also raised eyebrows by suggesting law enforcement would be at polling places on Election Day.

Mr. Meadows said there won’t be a bevy of sheriffs at voting sites but they do want to make sure sites are safe.

He said the sites will require social distancing and there’s been some aggressive behavior at places like grocery stores as the rules are applied.

“So to the extent that we’re going to deploy thousands of sheriffs, no we are not going to do that,” Mr. Meadows said.

Mrs. Pelosi, speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union,” said Democrats will accept the results of the election but she’s worried about foreign interference and other obstacles.

“The Russians, 24/7, are interfering into our election, the president welcomes it. So, again, it isn’t a question of accepting the result. The question is making sure that the public knows that they must vote,” she said.

She said Republicans will have “major doggy doo” on their shoes if they are “complicit” in undermining the integrity of the election.

“He’s doing this so that people won’t vote,” she said of Mr. Trump. “The best thing, all the time, is to ignore what he has to say because it has no association with fact, validity or truth. He may have his bully pulpit, but we have the American people and will make sure they turn out to vote.”

• Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.

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