This afternoon, the Senate voted against invoking cloture on S. 1789. Sixty votes are required to pass a cloture amendment, and thus the Republicans control the outcome. The final vote was 51-46.
The primary reason for the “no” vote is that the Senate wants to keep its focus on the oil and gas bill that is before them now, and there is a concern that not all the issues in the postal bill managers’ amendment have been satisfactorily dealt with.
Senator Reid and several others ended up voting against cloture so they can move to reconsider the vote in the future, probably after the Senate returns from its Easter recess on April 16. By then, the Republicans will either vote with the Democrats to invoke cloture or allow the bill to proceed to debate.
The following is a helpful excerpt from a 2011 Congressional Research Report, explaining the procedure:
“In relation to the Senate’s initial consideration of a bill or resolution, there usually can be at least two filibusters: first, a filibuster on the motion to proceed to the measure’s consideration; and second, after the Senate agrees to this motion, a filibuster on the measure itself. If the Senate cannot agree to take up a measure by unanimous consent, the majority leader’s recourse is to make a motion that the Senate proceed to its consideration. This motion to proceed, as it is called, usually is debatable and, consequently, subject to a filibuster.14 Therefore, the Senate may have to invoke cloture on this motion before being able to vote on it. Once the Senate adopts the motion to proceed and begins consideration of the measure itself, a filibuster on the measure then may begin, so that cloture must be sought anew on the measure itself. Except by unanimous consent, cloture cannot be sought on the measure during consideration of the motion to proceed, because cloture may be moved only on a question that is pending before the Senate.”
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
by Robert Brinkmann, National League of Postmasters Legislative Counsel
These are tough times in so many ways. Not only does it seem that the Postal Service has been determined (at least over the last several years) to eradicate Postmasters from the face of the earth, but Congress these days is taking shots right and left at federal workers, day after day, after day again. I had lunch with the Washington Post reporter who covers and federal worker beat, and he was as amazed as I was about the intensity and pace of the attacks. Both of us have watched events in Washington for decades and we have never seen anything like it. And, although sometimes postal employees are excluded from those shots, some of those shots are bound to hit home. Read more
On Monday, League President Mark Strong and NAPUS President Bob Rapoza sent a joint letter to USPS Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Megan Brennan, requesting a meeting to discuss the impact that the Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI) may have on Postmasters whose offices are on the study list. Specifically, the leaders of the two Postmaster organizations are asking to meet with members of the Postal Service senior management team to discuss minimizing or avoiding the impact that RIF may have on Postmasters whose offices may be discontinued.
RIF Avoidance and minimization strategy actions listed in the ELM 354.23 include voluntary early retirements, voluntary early retirement incentives, voluntary reassignments and other actions that can be considered for impacted employees. The two presidents reminded Ms Brennan that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said that he would work with the Postmaster organizations as he had worked with other RIF impacted employees. For more information on this and other important news from President Rapoza, click here http://www.napus.org/president-rapozas-updates/.
We have received several inquiries from Exempt status Postmasters who lost employees as a result of Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) and are re-classified to non-exempt if they manage less than two full-time equivalent employees, but the Form 50 isn’t processed to change them to the correct status for several months. Listed below is the USPS Headquarters response to the FLSA status question and their response on when salary protection begins for Postmasters who are downgraded as a result of DUO.
When staffing conditions in a Post Office do not meet criteria for FLSA-exempt status, the Postmaster’s FLSA status becomes non-exempt. If the FLSA status of the job changes, this should be brought to the attention of the appropriate management authorities promptly so that FLSA status may be adjusted timely, within one or two pay periods of the Postmaster no longer meeting the criteria of an exempt status. We recommend that Postmasters coordinate closely with their supervisors to ensure that work beyond 40 in a pay week is authorized expressly. This will help prevent potential problems. Postmasters should document overtime hours they work since DUO implementation. They should also document the dates such hours are worked, and they should furnish this material to local management for review and determination if there are concerns about pay.
Salary protection for DUO impacted Postmasters begins on the Form 50 effective date of the downgrade.
Next week, members of the two Postmaster organization pay talks teams will resume discussions with Postal Service representatives. The meetings will include discussions on pay, benefits, leave and changes to the ELM that may impact Postmasters. The Postmaster organizations and the Postal Service agreed to extend the October 5, 2011 deadline.
October 5, 2011
Filed under: NLPM, post office closings, postal, postal news, Postmasters, press releases, usps
National League of Postmasters President Mark Strong Tells Commission that Closing Thousands of Rural Post Offices Will harm Economy of Rural America and Not Help Postal Service.
Closing 3700 Rural Post Offices Would Save Less Than 3/10s Of One Percent Of USPS Operating Budget.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – In Testimony submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission, earlier this week, National League of Postmasters Mark Strong said that the Postal Service’s small rural post office closing initiative will harm “the level of services presently provided to small and rural communities, will hurt their economies and social structure, and does not even provide a corresponding benefit to the Postal Service.”
“The Postal Service is considering closing thousands of rural post offices throughout the country.If they close all that they are proposing to close, they will save less than three-tenths of one percent of their operating budget,” said Strong. Read more
Filed under: NLPM, post office closings, postal, postal news, Postmasters, usps
The National League Of Postmasters filed the following testimony with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) addressing the USPS Retail Access Optimization Initiative.
Highlights of the testimony:
…. the minimal imagined savings to the Postal Service are a critical factor in evaluating a proposal that essentially produces a drastic reduction in availability and service. I know that the Postal Service has said that they will be able to serve rural America just as well if not better once all these post offices are closed, but that is truly nonsense. I suggest that the real proposition here is that the Postal Service is under financial stress and its urban-based leadership wants to back off from providing rural America the type of service it provides today, in order to concentrate its focus on providing service to large urban and suburban areas. Read more
On August 27, 2010 LEAGUE and NAPUS jointly signed a letter asking that the OIG investigate the 2009 NPA process, specifically the suspected reduction of CORE scores to many Postmasters by higher level management. It was suspected that this unilateral reduction in scores without the immediate manager’s approval or input was driven by higher levels of management. On August 8, 2011 the results of the investigation were shared with the organizations and .found that our concerns were true. Read more
League of Postmasters Releases Statement on USPS Newsbreak Regarding Retirement and Health Benefit Proposal.
The National league of Postmasters fully recognizes the gravity of the financial position the Postal Service finds itself in, but is extremely concerned about the Postal Service’s radical notion to abandon the Federal retirement system and the Federal Health Benefit Plan, the most efficient and effective set of health care plans in the United States. Not only would such an action throw postal employees to the wolves, but withdrawal of postal employees from the Federal Plans could put the continued health and stability of those plans into jeopardy. Read more
Filed under: NAPUS, NLPM, post office closings, postal, postal news, Postmasters, PRC, usps
From The National Association Of Postmasters of the US:
On August 11, the Postal Regulatory Commission issued a ruling on the joint NAPUS/League complaint that certain provisions in the USPS’ March 31 proposed post office closing regulations violated current law. (While most of the provisions of the proposed regulations were implemented on July 14, none of the provisions that were subject to the complaint were implemented.) The first part of the complaint argued that the regulations should not have been issued, absent a request for a PRC Advisory Opinion. Since the USPS requested such an advisory opinion on July 27, this part our complaint was settled. The other parts the complaint, were dismissed as being premature, since the USPS has yet to implement final regulations to “consolidate” a Post Office into a station or branch, without conducting a formal discontinuance process, and has yet to implement regulations to designate a postal employee other than a “Postmaster” as the manager-in-charge of a post office. However, the PRC made clear that it would reconsider the complaint, if and when the USPS implemented final regulations on post office consolidations and the definition of “Postmaster.” Read more
Postmasters Receive Second RIF Notice
On August 2nd Areas sent another RIF notice to Postmasters impacted by DUO. Many Postmasters had received a RIF notice when their office was going through the DUO process. This RIF notice apparently was just a notice of a possible RIF. The August 2 RIF letter was a General Notice that in fact you had gone through DUO and are RIF impacted. It is very unfortunate but many Districts were not aware this letter was going out and were not able to give much local assistance to why Postmasters were getting the second letter. On August 31, 2011 a Specific RIF notice will be mailed to all DUO impacted Postmasters. . This RIF letter will state that all Postmasters impacted by DUO will have a effective date of November 4, 2011. Those Postmasters who have been downgraded with saved salary and who have not been reassigned to another office already will get a Specific RIF assignment to their own office effective November 4. It is our understanding that the official 2 year saved salary agreement in the February 14, 2011 letter from Doug Tulino will begin from that date. This agreement is for DUO impacted Postmasters and Station Mangers only. DUO impacted Postmasters will not be separated by this DUO RIF notice. This does raise a lot of questions for those Postmasters who have already been forced to move to another office right after their office went through DUO and now are being told the effective date is November 4, 2011.
February 14, 2011 Letter regarding impact of Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) on Postmasters and station managers View Letter (PDF)
source: National League Of Postmasters