Politics

'That's not our game': Kudlow says White House won't accept 'voting rights' provisions in virus aid bill

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Key Points
  • White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said President Donald Trump opposes "voting rights" plans backed by Democrats in the next coronavirus relief bill. 
  • "That's not our game," Kudlow said about voting provisions he called part of a "liberal, left" wish list. 
  • His comments fueled fears Trump will stifle efforts to make it easier for Americans to vote, including by mail, during the coronavirus pandemic, as the president opposes additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service. 
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NEC Director Larry Kudlow on 'Democratic asks' in stimulus negotiations

President Donald Trump will not support a coronavirus relief deal that includes "voting rights" provisions backed by Democrats, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Thursday. 

"So much of the Democratic asks are really liberal, left wish lists — voting rights and aid to aliens and so forth," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" when asked about the administration's stalled aid talks with Democratic leaders.

"That's not our game, and the president can't accept that kind of deal," the director of the National Economic Council continued. "So, we'll wait and see on the negotiations. Treasury Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin is working on that, but so far it's a stalemate."

It is unclear what provisions related to voting rights, a keystone of American democracy, Kudlow believes are a priority only for Democrats. A White House spokesman did not immediately identify the specific voting plans Kudlow was criticizing.  

His comments fueled growing fears that Trump will stifle efforts to make it easier for Americans to vote on his reelection during the coronavirus pandemic. The president has fought attempts to inject $25 billion into a cash-crunched U.S. Postal Service to ensure smooth mail-in voting during a year when casting ballots in person is hazardous due to the virus. 

Trump has also opposed Democratic plans to give states $3.6 billion to promote election security and mail-in voting during the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. A Republican pandemic aid bill unveiled late last month did not include additional money for elections beyond the $400 million in emergency funds approved earlier this year.

The president has repeatedly made unfounded claims that mail-in ballots are not secure and ripe for fraud. He suggested Thursday morning that he opposes USPS funding because the money would promote voting by mail.

"Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Trump told Fox Business Network. "But if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting, because they're not equipped to have it."

The president has voted by mail in Florida. He also recently promoted the use of mail-in ballots in that swing state specifically. 

Democrats have also warned that changes made at USPS following the appointment of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump ally and donor, will jeopardize the timely and accurate counting of mail-in ballots.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., swiftly criticized Kudlow's comments in a tweet Thursday. 

"We knew the GOP opposed voting rights, but this is unmistakable," he wrote.

Mark Pocan tweet

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters that Trump's resistance to voting by mail threatens to undermine "the health of our democracy." She added that election funds Democrats have proposed would also go toward making sure states can set up sufficient physical polling locations, open them long enough and create enough space at the sites to ensure safe voting. 

"You shouldn't have to choose between your health and the ability to cast your vote," she said.

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