April 18, 2012
Today, the Senate continued to debate S. 1789, the Lieberman-Collins-Carper-Brown postal relief bill. There was considerable discussion underscoring the importance of post offices to communities they serve. However, the Senate could not take up the so-called managers’ amendment to the bill, because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) raised an objection. He wanted to offer a “non-relevant” amendment to S. 1789 to suspend foreign aid to Egypt. Paul was denied the opportunity to offer the amendment, so he objected to the “motion to proceed” to the managers’ amendment. This means that tomorrow the Senate needs to muster a 60-vote super-majority to “end debate” (i.e., cloture) on the motion to proceed. (NAPUS supports a YES vote on cloture.)
In response to the Paul objection, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filled-up the “amendment tree”, which severely limits the number of amendments that can be considered on the Senate floor. Inasmuch as Senators have filed 74 amendments, such a limitation may be problematic. Consequently, the managers of the bill may need to request “unanimous consent” to proceed with any amendment. A number of amendments that were filed after 1:00 PM would definitely need unanimous to be considered.
Besides the Paul Amendment on foreign aid, amendments were offered relating to postal employee benefit cuts (McCain), accelerating the movement to 5-day delivery (McCain), the creation of a post office closing commission (McCain), imposing a moratorium on postal facility closures until enactment of the bill (Pryor), providing the USPS with temporary authority to raise first class postage (Carper), curtailing nuisance political campaign phone calls (Feinstein), enrolling senior citizens in the FEHBP (Paul), etc. NAPUS is reviewing all 74 amendments and will be sharing our views with the Senators.
A number of amendments are noteworthy. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has filed Amendment 2049, which would clarify that the USPS cannot unilaterally change or eliminate the product of Postmaster and supervisor pay and benefit consultations, without mutual agreement. Notwithstanding a mutual agreement, proposed changes should only take place during the times prescribed in law. NAPUS has requested that the managers of S. 1789 accept the Akaka Amendment. In addition, there are a number of amendments that seek to strengthen rural post office safeguards, including Amendment 2031 filed by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), with the co-sponsorship of Senators Baucus, Merkley and Tester.
NAPUS has been holding a series of telecons with NAPUS Legislative Chairs relating to legislative activities that they will be conducting. In fact, a number of NAPUS chapters have been asked by their Senators to participate in Senator-sponsored telecons on the postal legislation. Moreover, all NAPUS members have been invited to participate in a nationwide Tele-Town Hall Meeting with the Senate Leadership tomorrow. For more information about this unique Tele-Town Hall Meeting, please contact your Chapter Legislative Chair, Chapter President, National Vice President, or the NAPUS Government Relations Department.