The Hill has reported that leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the House Government Oversight Committee are currently working on a compromise Postal reform bill that could pass in the lame duck session. Given the limited time available in the lame duck session, Congress does not have the time to have the House of Representatives pass some version of H.R. 2309 and then negotiate the differences with S. 1789 in a Conference Committee. Therefore the leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee are working to short cut the normal legislative process.
If the negotiations are successful the next steps in the legislative process will likely be the following.
- Leaders of the House and Senate Committees will announce agreement on a compromise bill.
- The House Rules Committee would have to create a rule to allow for consideration of an amendment in the form of a substitute to be considered when H.R.2309 reaches the House floor. The amendment replaces the language of H.R.2309 with the language worked out in negotiations currently underway.
- The bill will be considered in the House of Representatives and the compromise will be passed as an amendment in the form of a substitute fairly easily. Then the House of Representatives will pass the bill containing the agreed-upon language and send it to the Senate.
- The bill will then be presented to the Senate and will be approved. It is possible that the Senate action will be completed with a voice vote as leadership on both sides will support the bill.
The steps described above are similar to steps that have been used to push through must-pass legislation that is considered at the end of a Congress or in response to a critical deadline such as the need to raise the debt ceiling.
For postal stakeholders, the negotiations currently underway likely represent their last chance to influence postal reform in this Congress. What is unclear though is whether the negotiators expect the outcome of their negotiations will allow them to avoid re-opening the process of developing postal reform legislation in the next Congress.
In the post, Lieberman and Issa Talking Compromise on Postal Reform, this blog has noted that the sides appear to be moving closer together. A report from Alan Ota, a reporter with CQ Roll Call, that Senator Joe Lieberman has offered to accept Congressman Darrell Issa’s demand that a compromise include allowing the Postal Service to cut mail service to 5-days a week. As noted in that post, Senator Lieberman’s offer covers one of two key issues that Congressman Darrell Issa has identified that the Senate has not already put into S.1789.