Senate May Consider Amendments to Postal Bill

APWU Web News Article 40-2012, April 19, 2012

Click here to view the Senate debate live on C-SPAN

The Senate could begin consideration of amendments to S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, on April 19. Seventy-nine amendments were filed as of a 1 p.m. deadline on April 18, and they run the gamut from provisions that would eliminate workers’ protection against layoffs, to language that would extend the moratorium on consolidations, to provisions to protect the benefits of injured workers.

“The revised version of S. 1789 is better than the original version, but we continue to have serious concerns about several issues,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey.

“The APWU will closely monitor the proceedings, and we may call on our members to contact their senators about important amendments,” said Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. The APWU vehemently opposes some amendments and favors others, he said.

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has introduced amendments to eliminate no-layoff clauses in contracts, to permit an immediate reduction to 5-day delivery, to set up a commission on closing post offices, and to increase employee contributions to health coverage and life insurance plans.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has proposed amendments that would end the Postal Service’s monopoly on the mailbox and first-class mail, eliminate collective bargaining, and even a non-relevant amendment to end foreign aid to Egypt.
  • Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced amendments to diminish union representation rights.
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has offered amendments to require retirement-eligible employees of the Postal Service to retire. He has also introduced an amendment that would allow the Postal Service to close unprofitable post office facilities.

“Along with all of the negative amendments are some positive amendments,” Reid said.

  • Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has offered an amendment that would prevent substantial unfair cuts to benefits provided to injured postal and federal workers.
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has offered an amendment that would require the Postal Service to consider the effect of closing or consolidating a postal facility on the ability of the affected community to vote by mail.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has offered an amendment that would extend the moratorium on the closing and consolidation of postal facilities.

Consideration of the amendments remains uncertain, however. Although there was extensive discussion of the proposed legislation on April 18, the Senate could not officially act on the bill, because of a procedural objection raised by Sen. Rand Paul on April 17, shortly after the revised bill was brought to the floor. The Republican senator from Kentucky sought to offer an amendment to end U.S. aid to Egypt, which Senate Majority Harry Reid deemed “non-relevant.” In response to Sen. Paul’s objection, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took steps to limit amendments.

As a result of the procedural squabble, the Senate may need to muster a 60-vote super-majority to close debate on the motion to proceed with consideration of the bill. A compromise on criteria for allowing amendments also could be reached.

The Senate is expected to act on the postal bill at 2:15 p.m. on April 19.

Click here [PDF] to read a section-by-section summary of the revised bill.