Floor Updates

Reid, Lieberman, Collins, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Apr 23 2012

12:52 PM

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • At 2:00 PM, the Senate will begin consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. J. Res. 36, the NLRB Ambush Union Elections Rule Resolution of Disapproval, with the time until 4:00 PM equally divided.
    • At 4:00 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • At 5:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #528, Brian C. Wimes, of Missouri, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the nomination.
  • Tuesday, April 24th --
    • At 10:30 AM, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. J. Res. 36, the NLRB Ambush Union Elections Rule Resolution of Disapproval, with the time until 12:30 PM equally divided.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Proceed to S.J. Res. 36, the NLRB Ambush Union Elections Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
      • If the Motion to Proceed is Agreed to, the time for debate with respect to S.J. Res. 36, will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. Upon the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of S.J. Res. 36.
    • At a time to be determined on Tuesday, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, and will conduct a series of ROLL CALL VOTES on the amendments listed below. All amendments will be subject to a 60-vote threshold and budget points of order and applicable motions to waive are in order. Upon disposition of the amendments, the substitute amendment, as amended, if amended, will be Agreed to, and the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of S. 1789, as amended, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
      • McCain substitute amendment #2001;
      • Tester amendment #2056 (closing/consolidation process);
      • Coburn amendment #2060 (government-sponsored conferences);
      • McCain amendment #2033 (Commission on Postal Reorganization);
      • Wyden amendment #2020 (voting by mail);
      • Coburn amendment #2058 (access to Postal Services);
      • McCaskill amendment #2031 (rural post offices);
      • Coburn amendment #2061 (postal employee retirements);
      • Snowe amendment #2080 (area mail processing studies);
      • Udall (NM) amendment #2043 (mail delivery schedule);
      • Durbin amendment #2082 (preventing certain closures and consolidations);
      • Akaka amendment #2034 (workers compensation);
      • Bennet amendment #2047 (citizen's service protection advocates);
      • Corker amendment #2083 (delivery frequency, rate regulation, reduction-in-force procedures, and post offices);
      • Mikulski amendment #2003 (post office closing to require state governor's certification);
      • Akaka amendment #2049 (supervisory and managerial organizations);
      • Paul amendment #2025 (mailbox use);
      • Manchin amendment #2079 (extend closing/consolidation moratorium);
      • Paul amendment #2026 (performance-based pay);
      • Bingaman amendment #2076 (state liaisons);
      • Paul amendment #2027 (close all Capitol Complex post offices except one);
      • Cardin amendment #2040 (prohibit closing of facility if nearest facility is more than 50 miles away);
      • Paul amendment #2028 (alternative Postal Service delivery pilot program);
      • Carper amendment #2065 (first-class stamp rate);
      • Paul amendment #2029 (impact of regulations on Postal Service profitability plan);
      • Carper amendment #2066 (limit Postal Service executive compensation);
      • Paul amendment #2039 (collective bargaining prohibition);
      • Casey amendment #2042 (maintain current delivery time for market-dominant products);
      • Paul amendment #2038 (first-class mail and mailbox use);
      • Landrieu amendment #2072 (small business impact of closures/consolidations);
      • DeMint amendment #2046 (employee authorization re: using dues for union non-representational activities);
      • McCaskill amendment #2030 (workers compensation);
      • Coburn amendment #2059 (require closure of unprofitable post office facilities);
      • Pryor amendment #2036 (sense of Senate re: closings and consolidations);
      • Rockefeller amendment #2073 (Medicare enrollment);
      • Rockefeller amendment #2074 (Postal Service Health Benefits Program);
      • Schumer amendment #2050 (maintain all current door delivery point services);
      • Tester amendment #2032 (limit pay of Postal Service executives); and
      • Warner amendment #2071, as modified (retirement reporting).
    • Majority Leader Reid has indicated that he wants to complete action on the bill on Tuesday, but it's possible that the votes will continue on Wednesday. Please note not all of the amendments listed above will require ROLL CALL VOTES.

Senator Reid: (12:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the NLRB Ambush Union Elections Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "America has the best, brightest and most dedicated workers in the world. All those workers need is a fair shot to succeed. But right now many workers in this country don't enjoy the same rights as the wealthy CEO's. That is a right to negotiate the terms of their employment. A new rule from the National Labor Relations Board will remove unnecessary obstacles to workers' rights to form a union. I solidly support this rule and I urge all my colleagues to vote tomorrow against a resolution of disapproval which would strike down this commonsense rule. The new rule doesn't change or do anything to encourage unions, but it doesn't discourage them either. It just gives workers the ability to vote yes or no while minimizing the chances of intimidation and stalling."
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "Tomorrow the Senate will also vote on a number of amendments to a bipartisan postal reform bill. This important piece of legislation will safeguard more than eight million jobs of people that depend on the vibrant postal system. It will protect postal customers, particularly elderly and disabled Americans and people who live in rural parts of this country. I'm pleased we reached an agreement to allow senators to offer amendments to this bill. I hope once we work through the amendments tomorrow, we'll see a strong bipartisan vote to modernize the Postal Service and save this important institution from insolvency. This institution is so important, it's contained in our constitution."
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "It does a number of very important things such as allow communities to get some support in setting up shelters for these women and their families to go in secret. VAWA has been above partisanship. I hope that proves to be the case again this year. This year it has 60 cosponsors and the support of 47 state attorneys general. I can't imagine why our Republican colleagues would oppose such a worthy piece of legislation. I'm hopeful, I'm somewhat confidence they won't. By joining Democrats to pass this legislation, Republicans can help the Senate's clear message that this country does not tolerate domestic violence. If the Senate doesn't complete work on this critical legislation before we recess for the work period, we'll continue after we come back to try to work through any problems that I see. But I really don't see any at this stage."

Senator Lieberman: (12:09 PM)
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "We simply can't turn aside, do nothing and let the Postal Service continue a fiscal spiral downward. The Postal Service, as we said over and over again last week, lost $13 billion in the last two years. It's going to run over its debt limit later this year. The Postmaster has been very clear that if we don't give him some authority to find a new business model, to economize, that he'll have to take very, very aggressive action, potentially closing, on one list he put out 3,700 post offices, approximately 250 mail processing facilities, which would be extremely disruptive both to the post office and to the commercial and personal life of our country. This bill offers a sensible but tough way forward to preserve the U.S. Postal Service but to acknowledge that it's got to change to stay alive forever, but certainly through the 21st century because of the impact of e-mail that has taken and dropped the volume of mail in the last five years by more than 20%. When you lose that kind of revenue, you've got to find ways to economize and you've got to find a different kind of business model, including different ways to raise revenue, all of which is authorized in this bill. I know some people think our bill doesn't do enough. They're ready to basically close down a lot of the Postal Service as we know it. Some people think our bill does too much. We naturally think we struck a sweet spot or a point of common ground. In fact, the Postal Service has told us that they believe that if our bill is enacted, that it would save somewhere, after it's fully implemented over the next two to three years, save somewhere between $15 billion and $20 billion a year probably closer to $15 billion, but it is a significant amount of money. And it creates a series of incentives to alter the business model of the post office including authorizing the post office to get into some businesses it's not been in before as a way to take advantage of its unique assets and raise more money some post offices will be changed under this bill. Mail-processing facilities, some of them, will be closed, though less than the Postmaster says he wants to have happen. We have authorized a significant amount of money to be spent to incentivize 100,000 postal employees to retire. They're eligible for retirement, with an incentive we think they will. And that itself would save the Postal Service approximately $8 billion a year. This is not one of those bills that people enjoy voting on, but it's our responsibility. It's just necessary that we face the crisis that the Postal Service is in and help it stay alive and flourish throughout the century."

Senator Collins: (12:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "The bottom line is this: the Postal Service will not survive if it pursues a course that risks alienating the remaining customers that it does have. So resorting to widespread closures of postal processing plants, which would essentially do away with overnight delivery of mail, raising prices so that big mailers pursue alternatives to using the Postal Service for delivery - those are not the solutions to the Postal Service's woes. On the other hand, the Postal Service clearly cannot continue to do business as usual. It has to innovate, it has to look for new sources of revenue, and we've given some very specific ideas in our bill by allowing, for example, the Postal Service to provide services and share space with federal, state, and local governments and to also ship beer and wine with a signature from the customer, just as its competitors FedEx and UPS, United Postal Service, are able to do. We also do not prohibit the closure of all Postal Services. Nor do we mandate that a certain number be closed. Instead, we set standards. We set service standards. And those service standards would govern the decisions that the Postal Service would make. And I think that is the appropriate way to approach the very difficult issue of how to reduce the infrastructure of the Postal Service. But the fact remains and it's a painful fact - that 80% of the Postal Service's budget is workforce-related. And it is always difficult to recognize when a workforce - particularly one as dedicated as the American Postal Service workforce - is simply too big for the volume of work that the Postal Service now has. But there are compassionate ways to deal with this workforce problem. And what our bill does is it allows for a refund of an $11 billion overpayment that the Postal Service has made to the federal employees retirement system known as the FERS system. And this is an overpayment that has been verified by an independent board of private actuaries that the office of personnel management relies upon. It has also been verified by the government accountability of office. So this overpayment, in part, can be used and would be directed to be used by the postmaster general to offer retirement incentives and buyouts up to and capped at $25,000 - exact same number that is used in buyouts in federal agencies - to reduce the workforce. Now, more than a third of the Postal Service's employees are eligible for retirement today. That is why the Postmaster General believes that if he provides a bit of an incentive, he can reduce the size of the Postal Service workforce by more than 100,000 workers. That's about 18% of the entire workforce, and that approach of using retirement incentives, buyouts, incentives like that is very similar to the approach that the private sector uses, that large corporations use when they are faced with the painful task of having to downsize their workforce. The rest of the overpayment refund would be used to pay down debt, something that the Postal Service desperately needs to do as it approaches that $15 billion line of credit."

Senator McConnell: (12:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Obama economy.
    • SUMMARY "Millions of Americans are still looking for work. The federal debt continues to cast a shadow over the American dream, and despite assurances made last year, there is no budget in sight from the Democratic-controlled Senate. As the Associated Press reports just today, about half of college graduates can't even find a decent job in this country. Now, I understand why the President wouldn't want to talk about these things, but that doesn't change the fact that he should, and it doesn't change the fact that his policies are the problem. The American people elected this President to change direction, not to change the subject. They elected the President to change direction, not change the subject. Yet, day after day, week after week, as our nation's challenges deepen and another economic crisis draws nearer, this President wants to change the topic. He wants people to focus either on something else or to overlook the things he is actually doing to make the situation worse. Let's take, for example, gas prices. Gas prices have more than doubled under this President. Yet, rather than doing something about it, he blames it on speculators and energy companies instead of increasing domestic production, he's focused on a plan to tax American energy manufacturers, a plan that would increase the cost of energy rather than lower the cost of gas. The national debt has skyrocketed more than $5 trillion under this President. Yet, rather than actually doing something about it, he pretends we should erase it. If we could somehow erase it by just whacking millionaires. Look, millions are looking for work. Yet, rather than doing something about it, he passes a health care bill that would impose massive new costs, he continues to threaten new taxes, and he empowers federal bureaucrats to cook up new rules and regulations that make it even harder for businesses to grow and to hire ... As a favor to big labor, the President is right now rushing a plan that would restrict an employer's ability to educate workers about unionization efforts as well as increase their legal bills and the already high cost of complying with federal regulations, and get this. The administration hasn't even provided an analysis of the costs involved in moving forward with this proposal. So tomorrow, senators led by Senator Enzi will have an opportunity to vote on this effort to make it even harder to do business in this country. We'll have a chance to stand up against what the President is doing to the economy, and in the process we'll be reminding people to focus on what the President does rather than what he says. Look, at a time when America's corporate income tax is now the highest in the world, we should be looking for ways to make it easier for businesses to hire, not harder. At a time when unemployment is above 13% for young people between the ages of 20 and 24 in this country, we should be finding ways to make it more likely they can find work, not harder. But this is the Obama economy. This is the President's approach. This is the painful legacy of his failed economic policies. The president may not want to discuss it, but republicans will."