While the House passed the bill in a show of strong bipartisan support at the beginning of February, the long-awaited Postal Reform Act has hit an obstacle on the last stretch to legislation…and the saga begins with a clerical error.
The Postal Reform Act Will Go Back to the House Due to Senator Scott’s Vote (and a Clerical Error)
Once the House passed the Postal Service Reform Act (HR 3076), it was time for it to go to Senate. However, one of the House clerks made a mistake and sent an incorrect version of the bill to the Senate. As a result, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved to call up that bill and filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the correct bill. The House unanimously agreed to fix the mistake and send over the correct bill for the Senate. However, in order for the Senate to vote on the correct version of the bill, the Senate needed to unanimously consent to substitute the correct version for the incorrect one. This means that even if one Senator voted against the motion to substitute the correct version, the vote would postpone.
Enter Senator Rick Scott (R-FL).
When the Senate brought forth that motion, Senator Scott objected to the unanimous request to proceed to the cloture vote. As a result, Senator Schumer has to begin again. Instead of voting, the Senate agreed to return the incorrect bill to the House, and the House needs to send the correct bill to the Senate all over again.
Senator Scott’s Stance
When he objected to the otherwise-unanimous request to proceed to the cloture vote, Senator Scott claimed the following behind his reasoning:
“Unfortunately there are pieces of this bill that blocks the opportunity for us to achieve our shared goal of responsibly reforming the Postal Service. I want the Senate to have the opportunity to work on this and improve it and deliver a bill that works. We can’t afford to add stress on our already enormous national debt with poor financial planning, which I think this bill absolutely does.”
Due to Senator Scott’s objection, Senator Schumer pulled the vote, and accused Scott of holding up the bill over a “technical issue.”
“It’s the same bill that was on the floor Thursday where we had an agreement to move on it tonight, but the House sent us a bill with a technical change,” Schumer said. “Five times in the past year this has happened, and each time, no senator had the temerity to get up and block it on a technical issue.”
Once the Correct Version of HR3076 is Called Up Again, the Earliest the Senate Can Vote is February 28th
Since Schumer didn’t obtain unanimous consent to proceed with the cloture vote on HR 3076, he will have to call up the correct version of the bill in order for the Senate to vote on it. That pushes the vote to later in the week. However, the Senate is currently scheduled to go out on a week-long recess this Friday. Before then, their schedule also contains nominations, as well as passing a short-term government funding bill. As a result, the official Senate vote for the Postal Reform Act likely won’t happen until the Senate returns to Washington on February 28th.