This vote was on an amendment that would have established a commission to help close and consolidate postal facilities across the nation.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would allow the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service to take cost-saving measures. The commission created by Sen. McCain’s amendment would have been charged with coming up with a plan to close post offices and mail processing facilities around the country. Once finalized, Congress would have either approved or denied the plan with an up-or-down vote – no amendments allowed.
Sen. McCain argued that the commission, which was modeled after the commissions used to close military bases, would help insulate the process of closing Postal Service facilities from political pressure. He argued that the underlying bill’s cost-saving measures – such as ending Saturday delivery after a two-year delay and offering incentives to workers for early retirement – would take too slow an approach to getting the Postal Service’s finances in line.
“I grieve for the individuals who took care of the horses when the Pony Express went out of business. I grieve for the bridle and saddle and buggymakers when the automobile came in. But this is a technological change which is good for America in the long run because we can communicate with each other instantaneously,” Sen. McCain said. “We need a group to come together to look at this whole situation, find out where efficiencies need to be made – as any business in America does – and come up with proposals.”
Opponents of Sen. McCain’s amendment argued that the underlying bill already included sufficient measures to close postal facilities and cut costs. They argued that Sen. McCain’s amendment would disrupt the bipartisan compromise that had been reached on the bill.
“This proposal of ours … is not a status quo proposal. It makes significant changes,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) said. “The bottom line: The U.S. Postal Service itself estimates that our legislation, if enacted as it is now, as it is phased in over the next 3 to 4 years, by 2016 will save the Postal Service $19 billion a year. This isn't a Band-Aid. This is a real reform, a real transformation of the Postal Service to keep it alive.”
Sen. McCain’s amendment to create a commission on closing post offices was defeated by a vote of 30-69. Voting “yea” were 30 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 16 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to establish a commission to help close and consolidate postal facilities across the nation.