Sunday, July 25, 2010

Putting the Subcommittee Vote in Context

Most postal stakeholders are please that the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, the Postal
Service and District of Columbia approved H.R. 5746, “the U.S. Postal Service CSRS Obligation Modification Act of 2010.”  However, anyone who listened to the arguments against the bill made by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) would quickly see that this bill could quickly become part of the partisan fodder that infests nearly all legislation in Congress.

Even though the Democratic majorities in the full committee make it likely that the bill could reach the House floor, there are potential landmines in the legislative process that could still derail its passage.  These include:
  •  The limited number of days in the legislative calendar.   It is difficult to get a new bill passed given what is already on the Congress's plate.   The bottleneck is tighter in the Senate than it is in the House but time is limited in both chambers. The legislative calendar becomes even a greater roadblock if the issue becomes a partisan hot button as opponents have many opportunities to delay action and cause the legislative clock to run out.
  • The difficulty of getting any Republican support in the House or Senate for a bill that "increases" the budget deficit.    It is not hard to imagine those opposed to this bill calling it a "bailout for a failing government agency."   It is not clear what the upside is for Republicans supporting this bill before the election.
  • Budget concerns among blue-dog Democrats that could make finding a House majority difficult if there is no Republican support.  The development of a budget focused caucus among moderate Democrats suggest that the budget impact of all legislation will increase in importance in the House for the remainder of this session.   There is no reason to suggest that the next Congress will be less budget-focused than the current one.
  • The challenge of getting 60 votes in the Senate.  Passing any change in the retirement liability in the Senate will likely depend on what it takes to gain the vote of between one and  five Republicans depending upon whether there are any Democrats who object to the change.   While Senator Susan Collins will clearly be a major player, others whose votes could determine passage includes Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Lisa Murkosky (R-AK), Olympia Snowe (R-ME),  and George Voinovich (R-OH).
So while the National Association of Postal Supervisors and other stakeholders can celebrate this first step, they still have a lot of work ahead of them if the legislative language contained in H.R. 5746 is to become law.

1 comment: said...

Did you also know that Corbett stated in the PRC hearings that the USPS does not expect Congress to pass H.R. 5746 because it would add to the federal deficit?