Senate Passes Postal Reform
The Senate voted today to approve the Postal Reform Act, sending a bill to the House of Representatives that the majority of Republicans there oppose. The vote, which required 60 votes to pass, cleared the Senate by 62-37. One independent and 12 Republican senators joined the Democratic majority in support of the legislation, while two Democrats opposed it.
"This is an important victory for the U.S. Postal Service, the American economy, and customers who rely on dependable and universal postal service," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, wrote in a statement following the vote. "Today's vote is also a win for bipartisanship. Americans are rightly frustrated about what many feel is a dysfunctional Congress. With enormous problems facing our country and Congress having little to show by way of accomplishments, the process we've just completed on this bill demonstrates Senators can work together."
The Postmaster General last year agreed to delay until May 15 obligatory closings of an anticipated 3,600 post offices nationwide, in order to give Congress the opportunity to help with legislation. The bill splits the number of mail processing centers the Postal Services currently wants to close - from 252 to 125.
With that deadline less than a month away, the changes Congress make will change the face of the U.S. Postal Service and will directly affect how you get your mail and how much you pay to send it.
"The situation is not hopeless, the situation is dire," Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said after the vote. "My hope is that our friends over in the U.S. House, given our bipartisan steps we took this week, will feel a sense of urgency."
Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is moving his own version of Postal Reform through the House of Representatives. He reacted to the news of its passage by calling the Senate's legislation "a $33 billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout."
"Instead of finding savings to help the Postal Service survive, the Senate postal bill has devolved into a special interest spending binge that would actually make things worse," Issa, a California Republican, said in a statement. "While the Postal Service is actually trying to shutter some facilities it does not need, the Senate bill forces the Postal Service to keep over one hundred excess postal facilities open at a cost of $900 million per year. Worst of all, the Senate bill does not stop the financial collapse of USPS, but only delays it for two years, at best, when reforms will only be more painful. The Senate's approach is wholly unacceptable."
Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who helped champion the bill through the upper chamber, said that once the House passes its own bill to address postal reform, "we'll find out where there's compromise."
"If House has a different way, we'll sit down and reason together," he said.
Collins also said she urged Issa to quickly pass his version of postal reform so that the House and Senate can get together and work out a final bill.
H.R. 2309, the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act, would defer decisions about realigning the postal service to keep up with America's changing use of mail. It also mandates that USPS cut costs while directing it to consolidate excess facilities through a GAO-recommended process similar to the military base closure commission.
ABC News' Sunlen Miller contributed to this report