This year’s NAPUS Leadership Conference is being held concurrently with Senate consideration of S. 1789, the Leiberman-Collins-Carper-Brown postal relief legislation. Consequently, the over 850 NAPUS members attending the Leadership Conference, and who will be on Capitol Hill next week will play a vital role in helping to influence the outcome of the Senate deliberations.
Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed two procedural motions that will bring to the Senate floor S. 1789, on Monday. The motion to proceed to take up S. 1789 was partnered with a preemptive cloture motion on the motion to proceed. Over the past few years, such tandem motions are routine. The effect of the Senate procedure means that the Senate requires a super-majority of 60 votes (not a simple majority) to begin debate on the legislation. Also, such a vote would overcome a “hold” placed on the bill by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who is concerned about the closure of the Easton, MD mail processing plant. The cloture vote is scheduled for Monday evening, at about 5:30 PM EDT.
Assuming the requisite number of votes is reached, the Senate will begin opening statements on the bill. After the statements, it appears likely that a number of, or all of sponsors of the postal bill will file an amendment to S. 1789, which would address many of the concerns raised by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his allies. (The actual text of the amendment may not be released until Monday). A vote on his amendment would be the first substantive vote on the legislation. Moreover, we can expect many of the same amendments that were defeated at the Committee level to be offered on the Senate floor, including an amendment to substitute H.R. 2309 for S. 1789. In addition, other amendments may be offered. It is important to remember that Senate procedures promote debate, sometimes protracted debate — unless cloture is invoked. NAPUS will carefully monitor Senate floor activities and ensure that our conference participants will be able to share NAPUS positions on each amendment with their Senators. It is unclear when votes will take place, although it is reported that the Majority Leader wants to complete Senate action on S. 1789 by the close of business on Friday, the beginning of the two-week Easter Recess period.
On Tuesday morning, NAPUS legislative activists will be addressed by key Senators who were deeply involved in crafting the key amendment, including Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman and Senator Bernie Sanders. Other Senators and members of the House will also address the Postmasters.