USPS rescue bill stalled in Senate
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Legislation that was supposed to ease the United States Postal Service’s long-standing financial woes has stalled in the Senate as both Democratic and Republican lawmakers seek to add provisions to a bill that the House of Representatives passed Feb. 8.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., had promised action on the House measure by the weekend.
But he took no action because four Democrats proposed to amend the House bill to block Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to purchase a new fleet of mostly gasoline-powered delivery trucks.
Democrats have insisted that the new postal fleet should be mostly electric in keeping with President Joe Biden’s plan to create an electric-powered federal fleet.
The truck amendment came after Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., blocked immediate consideration of the House bill by the Senate.
He offered an amendment that would make the USPS liable for any increased costs that Medicare would face from becoming the primary insurance for postal retirees.
Scott said the move could add $6 billion in costs to Medicare.
The House rescue plan calls for future postal retirees to use Medicare, significantly cutting the agency’s future healthcare costs.
If either the truck or retiree amendment is approved by the Senate, the Postal Reform Act of 2022 would have to return to the House for another vote, delaying what sponsors have said is the urgent need to help the long financially troubled USPS.
The Senate is scheduled to vote the evening of March 7 on whether to invoke cloture (limiting debate) on the postal bill.
Schumer said March 7 that the Senate will pass the postal rescue plan this week.
He cited “extraordinary support” the plan has from both Republicans and Democrats but did not elaborate on why the House-passed bill did not clear the Senate the previous week, as he had promised.
Lawmakers are putting “the final touches” on the legislation, he said.
The House bill has the backing of postal unions and mail industry groups.
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