Carper’s Senate Committee Postpones Next Week’s Vote on Postal Bill

Postal Service Quarterly Finances Improving From NAPUS: Update: Friday, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) announced that the committee will postpone the markup on S. 1486, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, November 6. In the intervening time, it is likely that the authors, Senators Carper and ranking Republican Tom Coburn (R-OK), will draft an amendment to the legislation that may include mutually acceptable changes to the bill. Other Senators intend to draft amendments. You may read more about the aborted committee markup and the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee that may consider hits to federal and postal benefits in the latest edition of the eNAPUS Legislative and Political Bulletin.

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It looks as if Congress won’t be doing much before it takes a well-deserved vacation for the holidays (sarcasm intended) but it looks as if some senators may try to do a little more damage before they leave Washington. After costing taxpayers $24 billion with their disastrous government shutdown last month, some U.S. senators will be marking up a bill that could, if eventually passed, do considerable damage to the U.S. Postal Service and its millions of customers.

According to a October 31 NAPUS (National Association of Postmasters of the United States) newsletter), Senate Homeland Security Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) notified his committee members on Wednesday that S. 1486, the Carper-Coburn postal reform bill, will be brought up for a vote on Wednesday, November 6. Since that bill’s ill-conceived inception earlier this year there have reportedly been a number of revisions. These revisions make up the base bill known as the “chairman’s substitute.” In addition to this, there will also be amendments offered. What all of this entails probably won’t be known until Tuesday, November 5.

The NAPUS newsletter speculates that S 1486, as originally drafted, has little chance of passing the committee without amendments. According to NAPUS:

“A couple of points should be made regarding Wednesday’s markup. First, an essential prerequisite for Senate floor consideration would be strong bipartisan support–a one or two vote margin may be insufficient to convince the Senate leadership to place the bill on the Senate floor…a 60-vote supermajority is often the green light for action in the Senate, so committee bipartisanship is a good litmus test for floor success (The Democratic Senate caucus will hold 55 seats).

“Second, three Democratic Committee members will face competitive races next November and, therefore, they will weigh their votes very carefully, particularly as how the bill may impact constituents back home. Consequently, service issues will occupy center-stage.

“Third, postponement is a possibility.”

Although we don’t know what the current “chairman’s substitute” bill looks like, we do know that the original bill, the Postal Reform Act of 2013, was deeply flawed on a number of levels and it is extremely doubtful that any improvements have been made in the bill during the interim.

Among others, S. 1486 would slowly and irrevocably dismantle the Postal Service while ignoring the major cause of the Postal Service’s bleeding of red ink — the 2006 pre-funding mandate requiring the Postal Service to pay billions of dollars into its already over-funded retiree health benefit costs 75 years into the future.

This dismantling process would include allowing the USPS to eliminate one OR MORE days of delivery after one year. This would not only eliminate Saturday deliveries, it would also eliminate over 80,000 quality full-and-part-time jobs. And indirectly, would impact thousands of other jobs outside the Postal Service.

The bill would also end door delivery and replace it with curbside and cluster boxes. It would eliminate door delivery for ALL American businesses immediately. Moving these deliveries to centralized cluster boxes would ensure that the Postal Service’s competitors taking the business away.

According to NALC’s Fact Sheet on S 1486:

“In order for Congress to successfully reform the U.S. Postal Service, it must first look to the main cause of the problems–the pre-funding mandate. Cutting services, eliminating jobs, shrinking the network, treating new employees unfairly and punishing injured workers all for the sake of continued pre-funding is an unacceptable solution that will destroy the Postal Service. Fixing the pre-funding mandate and liberating the Postal Service to innovate and to exploit its existing networks to provide new services are the crucial components of true postal reform.”

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