Senate committee set to continue mark-up of S. 1486

From the National Association of Letter Carriers:

NALC-LOGOFeb. 4, 2014–On Jan. 29, the Senate committee with Postal Service oversight, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, spent nearly three hours in a mark-up meeting to debate a handful of proposed amendments to S. 1486.

After that first session stalled, committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) announced that the mark-up would resume on Thursday, Feb. 6.

“Unfortunately, none of the proposed amendments to S. 1486 will fix the fundamental flaws with the bill,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “and at least one amendment–on rate-setting–would make the bill worse.”

As written, S. 1486 would facilitate the end of door delivery and the elimination of Saturday delivery, therefore destroying tens of thousands of letter carrier jobs. It also would endanger all postal jobs by slowing service and driving business away from the Postal Service.

“I am disappointed that the committee will seek to advance this flawed legislation,” Rolando said. “We will continue to fight for the kind of reform that will strengthen the Postal Service without slashing service or attacking hard-working postal employees.”

Round 1

One of the first amendments considered after the first mark-up meeting came to order on Jan. 29, from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), called for an immediate end to six-day delivery. It was easily defeated on a voice vote.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed an amendment calling on the Postal Service to declare bankruptcy and reorganize. In the senator’s vision of reorganization, collective-bargaining agreements between USPS and its employee unions would be renegotiated, while existing no-layoff protections and the ability to bargain over wages would be banned. The committee voted down the Paul amendment 11 to 4.

An amendment offered by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) called for the removal of the bill’s unfair provisions regarding injured workers. As written, S. 1486 imposes cruel and discriminatory reforms to the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) that would leave injured federal workers with the worst long-term injuries vulnerable to impoverishment when they reach Social Security retirement age. This FECA language was originally proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) under last Congress’ postal bill, S. 1789. Collins no longer serves on the oversight committee, but the language was still carried over into S. 1486.

Tester’s amendment failed, and the FECA reform language was retained. However, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the committee’s ranking member, admitted that the language was reflective of the last Congress’ priorities, and he said that even if it made it into the final bill, he believed it would be removed during House-Senate conference committee negotiations. Tester disagreed, saying that he was hearing that the House would likely follow the Senate’s lead on the matter and leave the language in the bill, untouched.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) raised some concerns over the new bill’s call to transfer rate-setting authority from the Postal Regulatory Commission the Postal Board of Governors, effectively giving complete rate-setting ability to the Postal Service with greatly reduced oversight. She also raised concerns about a revised price index system.

Following a great deal of back-and-forth discussion on the matter, Baldwin’s concerns were noted and her amendment was held over for future consideration.

Postal Reform Bill — “Wait Til Next Year!”


napusYesterday, at about 3:45 PM EST, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Tom Carper D-DE pulled the plug on consideration of S. 1486 for the year. Up until that time, the Carper-Coburn postal reform bill was scheduled on the committee calendar for a Wednesday morning “markup”. Nevertheless, committee consideration of the bill was predicated on the ability of the Chairman and Committee Ranking Republican Tom Coburn R-OK to reach an agreement on a “managers’ amendment” to replace S. 1486, as introduced.

During fall hearings on S. 1486, both Senators recognized the imperfections in the bill and pledged to collaborate on a managers’ amendment to address the problems; however, a number of key disagreements between the Senators could not be resolved by Tuesday afternoon. In addition, many doubt that even if such an amendment was to have been constructed, it would have been able to garner the support of a committee majority 9 votes. So, on Monday evening, a “chairman’s substitute amendment” was under consideration, but that possibility fizzled by mid-Tuesday. Under normal circumstances, all amendments should have been filed by 5:00 PM EST, on Monday, but the rule could be waived with consent of the Chairman and Ranking Republican. In any event, committee members filed 25 amendments by the Monday deadline.

Over the past week, NAPUS Legislative Chairs represented by Senators serving on the Homeland Security were in communication with their Senators, and, on Tuesday morning, were explaining NAPUS’ positions on the key filed amendments and the underlying provisions in the bill.

In sum, a legislative reset may take place early next year, possibly with a much narrower measure that addresses just the retiree pre-funding issue and some other issues, and such a bill would probably need to be considered by the committee by Presidents’ Day. And, just in case you forgot about the House of Representatives, there has been no effort to schedule H.R. 2748, the Issa postal reform bill, for floor action.

Read more: NAPUS.

NALC: Few surprises in first of two hearings on S. 1486

NALC-LOGOSept. 19, 2013—The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which has Postal Service oversight, held the first of two hearings today on the flawed postal bill, S. 1486, introduced by committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

“If passed, this bill would set the Postal Service on downward spiral,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “by calling for the slow dismantling of Postal Service’s retail, mail processing and last-mile delivery networks that are crucial for the booming e-commerce sector, while maintaining the misguided 2006 postal reform law mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefit costs decades in advance.”

Today’s 2½-hour hearing focused mainly on rates and revenue. Among those called to testify before today’s hearing were Postmaster General Patrick Donahue, Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway, USPS Inspector General David Williams, American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association President Jeanette Dwyer.

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Senate committee schedules another USPS hearing

Back from their lengthy summer vacation, members of Congress will get back to what they do best- holding hearings. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has scheduled one for next Thursday September 19, 2013 at 10:00AM ET.

No word on witnesses, and needless to say, not much chance that this hearing will be any more productive than all the others that have preceded it in both houses.

Outside the Box: Reforming and Renewing the Postal Service, Part I – Maintaining Services, Reducing Costs and Increasing Revenue Through Innovation and Modernization

Read more: Hearings | Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee.