This vote was on an amendment that would have given the U.S. Postal Service more leeway to close post offices, end Saturday delivery, and make other cost-cutting maneuvers.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would allow the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service to take cost-saving measures. The underlying bill was designed as a compromise that would allow the Postal Service to cut costs, but bar the Postmaster General from taking some of the most sudden or drastic actions for which he sought authority from Congress. Sen. Corker’s amendment would have given the Postmaster General more authority to make such changes. For example, Sen. Corker’s amendment would have allowed Saturday delivery to be ended immediately, instead of after 2 years of study as called for in the underlying bill. Sen. Corker’s amendment also would have barred labor contracts that protect postal workers from layoffs and benefit cuts.
Sen. Corker argued that his amendment would have strengthened the bill’s power to help the Postal Service save money. The Postal Service’s business model is unsustainable, and his amendment would ensure the agency could pull its finances into balance, he said.
“It is clear the Postal Service must make drastic changes, and I applaud those portions of S. 1789 that allow the USPS greater flexibility,” Sen. Corker said. “But there are far too many provisions in the underlying bill that would put more restrictions on the U.S. Postal Service, not fewer, and limit the organization's ability to adapt to changing times, and so I urge support of my amendment.”
Opponents of Sen. Corker’s amendment argued that it would have set the stage for changes that would have a dramatic negative impact on consumers. They argued that the underlying bill represented a better approach because it balanced the need to cut costs with the needs of those who rely on the Postal Service.
“This is a bill that creates a transition that will keep the Postal Service alive – and we think even healthier – without the kind of sudden jolts the amendment offered by my friend from Tennessee would impose,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) said. “I think we have done it without the dislocation to the millions of people in our society who depend on the mail and depend on mailing industries for their jobs, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people who work for the Postal Service.”
Sen. Corker’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 29-70. Voting “yea” were 29 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 17 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to give the U.S. Postal Service more leeway to close post offices, end Saturday delivery, and make other cost-cutting maneuvers.