Washington–Intense negotiations are underway in the Senate to revive a $1.1 billion economic stimulus bill that would provide an immediate infusion of cash to the financially ailing U.S. Postal Service.
Wednesday, the measure, previously approved by the House, was effectively put in limbo by the Senate after it rejected more than two dozen attempts to amend the bill, which would raise the total appropriation to well over $20 billion.
One of the proposed amendments included an immediate $5 billion appropriation for the Postal Service.
Last week, Postmaster General John Potter asked the Senate Appropriations Committee for the money to help the Postal Service cover its costs in dealing with the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WVA), said that because of the ongoing negotiations, he was unable to say when the question of an emergency appropriation for the Postal Service would come up.
Naturally, the issue has the backing of a coalition of mailing industry groups. Among them are the Direct Marketing Association, Association for Postal Commerce and the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers. Also supporting the measure are the postal workers and supervisors unions and several private companies including RR Donnelley and Sons Co., Time Warner and Pitney Bowes Inc.
The Postal Service’s request “is fairly consistent with the DMA’s position that the costs incurred by these two events should not be borne by rate payers,” said Jerry Cerasale, its senior vice president of government affairs.
“These are national defense expenditures, monies that would have not been spent if it were not for the necessity of homeland security,” said Neal Denton, the Alliance’s executive director. “Congress, not rate payers, should pay for it because without that funding the Postal Service will be forced to make difficult decisions, either to raise rates, diminish service, or both.
Originally, the bill, sponsored by Rep. William Thomas (R-CA), was designed to be a tax-incentive measure to boost the nation’s sagging economy following Sept. 11 and the anthrax incidents.