Today, the Senate cast votes on 15 of 40 amendments to S. 1789, the Lieberman-Collins-Carper-Brown postal relief bill. The legislative body will resume its voting tomorrow at 2:00 PM EDT. The proceedings may be viewed on CSPAN-2 or at www.senate.gov.
During the course of consideration, two amendments were withdrawn by their sponsors; most notably, Sen. John McCain elected not to offer SA 2001, his amendment that replicated H.R. 2309, the Issa-Ross postal bill. It is possible that McCain did not offer this amendment, since its defeat would “prejudice” consideration of the Issa-Ross bill in the House. However, McCain did offer an amendment to create a post office closing commission, SA 2033. Such a commission is included in H.R. 2309. The amendment was defeated by a whopping 30-69 vote, sending a clear message to House-advocates of such commission.
As anticipated, right out of the box, Senate Budget Committee Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions raised a budget point-of-order against the bill for violating last summer’s budget agreement. To waive this procedural roadblock required a 60-vote super-majority, which was achieved by a 62-37 vote. Senators Collins and Lieberman pointed out that the only reason that the bill “scored” was because unfair and arcane budget rules were applied to the postal bill. Had the 60 vote threshold not been attained, S. 1789 would been stillborn. Surviving the budget point of order could be a predictor of the outcome on final passage.
As series of post office protection amendments were adopted by voice votes, including NAPUS-promoted amendments SA 2031 (McCaskill-Merkley) and SA 2056 (Tester). SA 2031 includes a 1-year moratorium on post office closures.
Two amendments were proposed and defeated relating to delivery frequency. S. 1789, as drafted, would permit the USPS to move to 5-day delivery in 2 years. Sen. Tom Udall proposed an amendment (SA 2043) to maintain 6-day delivery; it was defeated on a 43-56 vote. And, Sen. Corker proposed an amendment (SA 2083) to implement 5-day delivery immediately; it was soundly defeated by a 29-70 vote.
Check in tomorrow evening/night for more updates, depending on when the Senate completes action.