From the National Association of Postal Supervisors:
Senate Could Take Up Postal Measure Soon
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has told his Democratic colleagues that he intends to schedule floor time in February for the consideration of comprehensive postal reform legislation. The Senate returns next week from its month-long holiday recess to begin the new session. The House returned this week.
According to Senate staff, Reid’s scheduling plan looks to Senate action on postal reform before mid-February. It envisions postal reform as the second item of business in the new session, following Senate action on internet piracy legislation. Reid intends to bring the internet legislation to the floor next week, but growing controversy over the legislation is generating significant opposition, potentially scrambling Reid’s scheduling plans.
Meanwhile, the bipartisan team of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) are readying a postal legislative package for floor action. Their bill, S. 1789, was approved as amended on November 9 by the Senate Commitee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. A number of other Senators are likely to offer further amendments when the bill comes to the floor.
Also, action on the payroll tax holiday legislation, which the Congress extended for only two months in December, will also occupy Senate (and House) floor time in February. Because differing versions were approved by the two chambers, Senate and House conferees will begin to meet next week to start to hammer out the differences. The current extension expires on February 29. A crucial part of the House-approved approach toward financing the payroll tax holiday, which NAPS opposes, would increase the FERS and CSRS retirement contributions of current postal and federal employees by 1.5 percent over the next three years. It also would extend the two-year federal employee pay freeze by an additional year.
Growing Critism of USPS Plant Consolidation on Capitol Hill
In other developments, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), became one of the latest members of Congress to go on record against the proposed closure of up to 252 of about 461 mail processing facilities. The USPS plant consolidation plan, which would eliminate nearly 30,000 jobs, has unleashed a flood of criticism from Washington lawmakers.
“This plan has profoundly negative implications for timely and reliable mail service in northern, western and eastern Maine, a geographically vast and rural area of our state,” Snowe said in a news release after visiting an eastern Maine processing and distribution facility that employs 183 people and is slated for consolidation with another plant. She described herself as “unpersuaded” by the merits of the USPS plant consolidation plan, and believes it would “disproportionately slow down mail delivery to rural areas of Maine.”
Sentiments like these prompted the Postal Service last month to impose a moratorium on closings of all processing plants and post offices until mid-May, although closure and consolidation studies will proceed. The Postal Service is also pursuing a change in service standards that will drop overnight delivery of first-class mail. NAPS opposes the proposed change in service standards and has intervened in the Postal Regulatory Commission’s review of the change. NAPS also favors “right-sizing” of the postal plant network, rather than closure of as significant a number of plants as USPS plans in order to save costs.
Legislative Counsel to NAPS