This vote was on an amendment that would have made it more difficult for the Postal Service to close facilities and shed jobs by requiring that its “standard of service” be maintained for at least 4 years.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would allow the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service to take cost-saving measures such as closing postal facilities and using cash incentives to encourage postal workers to retire or quit.
Sen. Casey argued that closing post offices and mail processing facilities would cost jobs. By barring the Postal Service from degrading its service standards for 4 years, Sen. Casey argued that his amendment would force the agency to preserve many of those facilities, as well as the jobs of the workers who operate them.
“There will be a lot of changes made in the next couple of years upon enactment (of the postal reform bill),” Sen. Casey said. “What we should not do, though, is move too quickly to change the standard of service that people have had a right to rely upon.”
Opponents of Sen. Casey’s amendment argued that it would drive the Postal Service deeper into a financial hole by delaying critically needed reforms.
“Everybody acknowledges that the Postal Service is in crisis, losing $23 million a day. Mail volume has dropped 21 percent in the last 5 years,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) said. “The Postal Service will only survive if we change it. Our bill allows for orderly change. This amendment would basically maintain the status quo for 4 years. I think doing so is a kind of invitation to the Postal Service to go into bankruptcy. Our country cannot afford that.”
Sen. Casey’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 44-54. Voting “yea” were 42 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 2 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 44 Republicans and 10 Democrats. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to make it more difficult for the Postal Service to close facilities and shed jobs by requiring that its “standard of service” be maintained for at least 4 years.