From the National League Of Postmasters:
Postal Legislation: Senate Consideration Likely To Be Delayed
Late last week it seemed that the final stages of the process to pass postal legislation through the Senate would start today, Monday, March 26. However, developments late this morning have changed that and indicate that consideration might be put off until after the upcoming Senate Easter recess, which is scheduled for the first two weeks of April. A procedural vote on cloture could occur later this week. Watch our website for updates.
Here is what is happening. Today the Senate convenes at 2:00 pm and it is scheduled to deal with routine morning business until 4:30 today. After that, the Senate is scheduled to take up the oil and gas bill, S. 2204 (The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act). Somewhere around 5:30 this afternoon, there will be a roll call vote on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the oil and gas bill S. 2204.
A Motion to Proceed is a motion to actually schedule a bill for floor time. Invoking cloture on a motion to proceed is a procedural way to place a time limit on Senate floor consideration of a bill, and thus ensure that there will not be a filibuster. A vote of sixty ayes is necessary to invoke cloture and set a time limit. NOT invoking cloture—i.e., not setting a time limit for debate—often results in a bill not getting to the floor for fear of a filibuster.
Now, if cloture is not invoked on the oil and gas bill (i.e., they don’t limit debate), then there immediately will be a second roll call vote today on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 1789, the Postal Reform Bill. This is, according to the Democratic Senate website, that could set the postal bill in motion for consideration on the floor this week.
Last week it looked as if cloture would not be invoked in the oil and gas bill—e.g., that there would not be enough votes to limit debate on the oil and gas bill—thus freeing the postal bill up to proceed to the floor. However, late this morning we found out that it looks as if the Republicans (who are the minority in the Senate) will give the Democrats cloture, thus allowing the oil and gas bill to go to the floor for a time-limited debate. This will delay the postal bill.
The net result of this would be that no cloture vote would occur today on S. 1789. A cloture vote on S. 1789 could easily occur later this week, in order to schedule the bill for a time-limited floor debate and vote after the Easter recess. Our understanding is that they have the sixty votes for cloture.
Importantly, today’s developments suggest that S. 1789 is not yet ready to go to the floor. The most obvious reason that this would be so is because the manager’s amendment is not yet ready. Let me explain.
When the bill eventually gets to the floor (with a time-limited debate, cloture having been invoked) the first thing that will happen will be that a manager’s amendment will be offered to the bill. This is an amendment offered by the four co-sponsors of the bill Sens. Lieberman (D CT), Collins (R ME), Carper (D DE), and Brown (R MA), (who are the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate committee and Senate subcommittee of postal jurisdiction, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and its Financial Management Subcommittee). Sen. Sanders (D VT) and some thirty other senators are pushing for certain issues to be in the manager’s amendment, and they are working out details with the four sponsors. It is expected to pass as a matter of form.
The amendment will be in the nature of a substitute and thus will simply replace the text of the existing bill with the text of the amendment. This amendment will include the original language of S. 1789, contain some changes to it, and contain some additions that have been worked out in the last several weeks on a dozen or so issues. Substantively, the manager’s amendment should include provisions that will strengthen the post office closing protections even more than they were strengthened at markup, protect the quality of postal delivery service, and add language somewhat protecting six-day delivery among other things. There is one caveat. No one has yet seen the actual language of the bill, so nothing will be certain until we do.
Once the manager’s amendment is adopted, that becomes the text of S. 1789 that will be considered and debated by the Senate. Then the fireworks start.
There will most likely be up to 30 hours of debate on the bill. Any senator can offer any amendment. Thus, there will be a series of amendments to the bill, on any subject, including amendments not germane to the Postal Service. It could be quite a zoo, and would be quite entertaining and amusing if the subject matter were not so critical, and the consequences of not-getting-it-right less disastrous.
Substantively, I have heard that the issues holding up the manager’s amendment, and thus the bill, are concerns from senators about a proposed nickel increase on the Single-Piece First Class stamp in the manager’s amendment, and concerns from senators about the closing of facilities in their own states.
Once the bill gets to the floor, live coverage of the proceeding will be cablecast on C-Span 2, on your local cable network or on the c-span webcast. As I said earlier, it looks right now as if floor consideration will not occur until after the Senate returns from its Easter recess on April 16. Having said that, let me warn you that when a bill is just about ready to go to the Senate floor, as is S. 1789, any of the timing can change at the last minute.
source: National League Of Postmasters