Postal Service prompts tricky votes in the Senate
Date: April 23, 2012
Senators this week face one of the trickiest series of votes they’ll confront this year: on how to reform the U.S. Postal Service.
On Tuesday, the Senate is set to vote on up to 38 amendments to a major bipartisan bill that would reform the Postal Service, including proposals to end six-day mail delivery, continue six-day mail delivery, require USPS to wait two more years before closing small rural post offices, and to close post offices on Capitol Hill.
As we’ve noted before, the issue is tricky to track because it doesn’t break down along traditional partisan or ideological lines. Instead, postal reform pits lawmakers from smaller rural states against colleagues from larger, more urban areas. Lawmakers who normally work closely together — such as Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — are on opposing sides of the issue.
Senate leaders may trim the list of amendments to 20 or fewer by votes beginning Tuesday. Lieberman, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) negotiated late last week to permit votes on the amendments as a way to keep skittish colleagues happy and to allow at least a few of them the opportunity to say they tried to protect small post offices, the concerns of senior citizens and home-state businesses that rely on or profit from the mailing industry. (We wrote more on this issue in Friday.)
After postal reform, the Senate is slated to move to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which is set to expire at the end of May.
In the House, lawmakers plan to vote Tuesday on a series of bills that would swap federal land from one agency to another, or release some federally protected property for private development. Later in the week, the House plans to vote on the DATA Act, which would establish an independent board to track all federal spending. It also would require agencies to report data in a standardized format. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in the House and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), in the Senate, is expected to earn more support because Issa and Warner are casting it as the type of measure that can help prevent scandals such as the one plaguing the General Services Administration.
Cybersecurity is another issue that House lawmakers plan to consider this week when they vote Thursday on a bill that would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats, but critics say it might lead firms to share private user information with other companies or spy agencies. The White House is critical of the bill, saying it should include stronger privacy protections.
Source: Washington Post