This vote was on an amendment that would have barred the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday delivery.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would allow the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service to take cost-saving measures. One of those measures was the elimination of Saturday delivery, although this could be done only after waiting 2 years and conducting a battery of studies to justify the decision. Sen. Udall’s amendment would have stripped those provisions from the bill, requiring the Postal Service to continue Saturday delivery.
Sen. Udall argued that countless businesses and individuals – especially those in rural areas – depend on the services offered by their local post offices. He also argued that Saturday delivery is one of the main advantages the Postal Service holds over its competitors.
“Why eliminate one of the key competitive advantages and hurt rural America before we know the effects of these reforms? It makes no sense,” Sen. Udall said. “Why would we make a change that would reduce mail volume by almost 7 percent? Isn't that why we are in this crisis in the first place? I hope my colleagues will join me in protecting rural jobs and go on record to say clearly that moving to 5-day service should be a last resort.”
Opponents of Sen. Udall’s amendment noted that the Postmaster General had sought authority to end Saturday delivery immediately. By enforcing a 2-year waiting period and requiring the Postal Service to first study the effect of the change, Congress would ensure that it was the right decision, they said.
“I know there are a lot of people who don't want to lose 6-day delivery. But the greater imperative is not to lose the Postal Service as we know it,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) said.
Sen. Udall’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 43-56. Voting “yea” were 42 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 1 Republican. Voting “nay” were 45 Republicans and 11 Democrats. As a result, the Senate moved forward with legislation that would allow the Postal Service to end Saturday delivery after 2 years.