Senate Approves Twenty Amendments and Votes to Adopt its Postal Reform Bill:
Focus Will Turn to Action in the House of Representatives
(Wednesday, April 25, 2012) During this second and final day of debate and votes in the full Senate, a series of twelve additional amendments to S.1789 were considered and adopted, while the body rejected an additional five amendments to the bill. Taken together over the two days of action by the full Senate, that chamber authorized a total of twenty amendments to the pending substitute legislation. Immediately following the amendment votes, the Senate approved the substitute version of S. 1789 -- the “21st Century Postal Service Act,” as amended, by a vote of 62-37.
Many of the amendments considered during the debate were supported by the NPMHU, while others were vigorously opposed. The NPMHU relied on many of its friends and supporters in the Senate to help shape a more favorable bill, but special credit goes to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who created a coalition that was successful in securing countless positive changes to the original version of S. 1789.
On the positive side, if enacted, the bill would: (a) return $11 billion dollars to the USPS from overpayments to the FERS system. Some of this money would be used for retirement buy-outs and some for postal operations. At this time, no buy-out has been finalized; (b) continue current service standards (including 6-day mail delivery) for a minimum of two years; (c) protect many processing plants from the threatened immediate shutdown by the USPS; (d) secured continuation of our interest arbitration process; (e) allow shipment of beer, wine, distilled spirits, and other expansions of postal functions; and (f) protect the vote by mail process.
Defeated were many amendments that the NPMHU opposed. They included ones which would have privatized the USPS, forced retirement eligible employees to leave postal employment, abrogated union contracts, ended collective bargaining, and restricted political rights of unions and members. Credit for defeating the harmful amendments is in part due to your calls, letters and emails to the Senators of both parties.
However, the attempt to delete serious, harmful changes to FECA was not successful. Also, attempts to strengthen areas of the bill, such as service standards and rate flexibility were unsuccessful. We believe the final Senate bill should have been much stronger, and our Union will continue to work diligently to improve on any final legislation.
The NPMHU believes that the adopted Senate measure provides a framework through which we can fight the pending House of Representatives measure, HR 2309 – which is the epitome of anti-union, anti-worker legislation. The bill will now wait until the House takes action. No date has been scheduled.
NPMHU members should remain actively engaged in this legislative effort as it continues to unfold. More information will be made available on the NPMHU website, and all members are strongly encouraged to visit our online Legislative Center to become an NPMHU Legislative Activist.
Listed below are all of the amendments that were authorized or rejected over the course of the two days. Language in some of these amendments was changed immediately prior to consideration by the full Senate. As such, the exact language in the approved amendments is not yet available.
Amendments approved during the April 25, 2012 session:
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Bingaman (D-NM) (#2076) to create a state liaison for those states not having a USPS District office.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Paul (R-KY) (#2027) to limit the post offices on Capitol Hill to two.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Paul (R-KY) (#2029) to add additional requirements to USPS in its reporting to Congress.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Carper (D-DE) (#2066) to limit compensation for postal executives.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Landrieu (D-LA) (#2072) to require that USPS consider the impact of proposed facility closures on small businesses in the community.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator McCaskill (D-MO) (#2030) to make amendments to the FECA provisions contained in the bill.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Pryor (D-AR) (#2036) to adopt a Sense of the Senate resolution that no post office closures will commence until enactment of a postal reform bill.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) (#2073) to help facilitate access to Medicare for USPS employees.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) (#2074) relative to the USPS health benefits program.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Schumer (D-NY) (#2050) to preserve door delivery for all existing postal customers.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Warner (D-VA) (#2071) to mandate changes at OPM to expedite processing of federal and postal employee retirement applications.
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Tester (D-MT) (#2032) to reduce USPS executive level salaries to that amount authorized to cabinet Secretaries in the Executive Branch.
Amendments approved during the April 24, 2012 session:
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Tester (D-MT) (# 2056) allowing for more community participation in the decision process for closing or consolidating post offices and postal facilities. The amendment also gives the Postal Regulatory Commission authority to “affirm or reverse” the determination of the Postal Service;
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Coburn (R-OK) (#2060) which places certain restrictions and dollar limits for funding of all government agency conferences;
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Feinstein (D-CA) (#2020) which seeks to ensure access to vote by mail and “no excuse” voting, particularly during this transition period for the USPS;
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Coburn (R-OK) (#2058) which encourages co-locating postal services within commercial or government entities;
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senators McCaskill (D-MO) and Merkley (D-OR) (#2031) which allows for a one-year period before closing any rural post offices, and imposes standards for ultimate closure;
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Snowe (R-ME) (#2080) allowing appeal to the PRC of USPS decisions to close or consolidate a mail processing facility, and requiring independent third party verification of methodology and savings suggested by USPS Area Mail Processing Studies;
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senator Durbin (D-IL) (#2082) to protect from closure certain facilities having demonstrated continued operational efficiency; and
- By voice vote, an amendment from Senators Bennett (D-CO) and Blunt (R-MO) allowing for community advocates in the facility closure process, and allowing for additional services to be provided by the USPS (passports, etc).
Amendments rejected by the Senate during the April 25, 2012 session:
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 43-53 (#2079), an amendment from Senator Manchin (D-WV) to extend the moratorium on closings and consolidations for a period of two years.
- Rejected by a roll call vote of (35-64) (# 2028), an amendment from Senator Paul (R-KY) to create an alternative methods pilot program, allowing greater operational autonomy for local postmasters.
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 23-76 (#2039), an amendment from Senator Paul (R-KY) to prohibit collective bargaining for all postal employees.
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 44-54 (#2042), an amendment from Senator Casey (D-PA) to maintain current USPS service standards for a period of four years.
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 46-53 (#2046), an amendment from Senator DeMint (R-SC) to require prior approval from union members prior to spending membership dues money on political activities.
Amendments rejected by the Senate during the April 24, 2012 session:
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 30-69 (#2033), an amendment from Senator McCain (R-AZ) to create a Reorganization Commission, modeled after the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission;
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 33-65 (#2061), an amendment from Senator Coburn (R-OK) to give the Postmaster General authority after two years to force retirement eligible employees to leave employment with the USPS;
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 43-56 (#2043), an amendment from Senator Udall (D-NM) to strike the bill’s provision to allow USPS to implement five-day delivery after two years;
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 46-53 (#2034), an amendment from Senator Akaka (D-HI) to replace the bill’s workers’ compensation provisions with previously-approved bi-partisan legislation approved by the House of Representatives;
- Rejected by a roll call vote of 29-70 (#2083), an amendment from Senator Corker (R-TN) to allow the immediate move to 5-day delivery, and to make other changes to rates and workforce;
- Rejected by a vote of 57-42 (#2049), an amendment from Senator Akaka (D-HI) which would have prevented USPS management from modifying, reducing, or eliminating benefits outside of the current consultation process; and
- Rejected by a vote of 33-64 (#2025), an amendment from Senator Paul (R-KY) to end the mailbox monopoly.
The NPMHU leadership and Legislative team will remain engaged with Members of Congress and other postal stakeholders during the ongoing effort to fashion and enact comprehensive and responsible postal reform legislation. Be sure to visit the NPMHU for updates on this important matter.