This vote was on a motion to waive budget rules that would otherwise stall legislation reforming the U.S. Postal Service.
Congress was debating legislation that would allow the financially troubled Postal Service to cut costs by eliminating Saturday delivery, offering incentives to encourage postal workers to quit or retire early, and implementing a number of other cost-saving measures. However, an evaluation by the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would raise the federal budget deficit. This meant that the bill would violate Senate rules requiring spending cuts or tax hikes to ensure legislation is budget-neutral. To get around these rules, at least 60 senators would need to support a motion to waive them.
Supporters of the motion to waive the budget rules argued that the Postal Service would run out of money in a matter of months if Congress did not take action. The bill, which was written by a bipartisan group of senators, would allow the Postal Service to save money but prevent it from taking drastic action that would harm businesses and individuals who depend on reliable delivery, they said. The failure of the bill would “spell the end of the Postal Service,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said.
“This is about rural towns in America,” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said. “This is about small businesses everywhere that rely on the Postal Service to get basic business done. Don't vote wrong today. Give the Postal Service a chance to save itself. That is what we are doing.”
Opponents of the motion argued that the postal reform bill would abandon a bipartisan agreement that was reached the previous year to limit federal debt. If the Senate believed the U.S. Postal Service was important, it should be willing to make the tough choices necessary to ensure the bill does not raise the deficit, they said.
“Just last August we agreed to certain debt limits – the amount of debt we would incur and add to the U.S. Treasury. It was a fought-over agreement, but we reached it and we stood by it. I believe we have a moral obligation to not mislead the people who elected us when we said we intend to stand by the limits on increasing debt,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said. “It is a matter of importance for our own integrity and the fiscal stability of America. I believe it is important that we adhere to that limit.”
The motion to waive budget rules was agreed to by a vote of 62-37. Voting “yea” were 53 Democrats and 9 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 37 Republicans. As a result, the Senate waived its budget rules and moved forward with legislation that would allow the financially troubled Postal Service to cut costs by eliminating Saturday delivery, offering incentives to encourage postal workers to quit or retire early, and implementing a number of other cost-saving measures.