John McCain and the Politics of Postal Reform

Yesterday, John McCain introduced a postal reform bill that his press release describes as the “companion to the legislation that Representative Darrell Issa introduced in the House of Representatives.” Based on press reports, the bill combines elements from the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act of 2011 with proposals that Senator McCain made earlier this year in amendments to other legislation.

By calling his proposal a companion legislation to the Ross-Issa House bill, Senator McCain allowed Congressman Issa rename his bill the Issa-McCain-Ross bill in his Washington Times Op-ed.

Senator McCain’s announcement is particularly important in molding opinion on postal reform in Washington and nationwide for a couple of reasons.

  1. Senator McCain’s bill increases the likelihood that elements of the House approach will be included in the bill that passes the Senate and signed by the President. The Senate Bill will require approval by 60 members and outside of Senators Brown, Collins, Grassley, Murkowski, and Snowe who will support a measure coming from provisions in legislation that either Senator Carper or Senator Collins have discussed. It is much easier identifying 41 Republicans that would support the approach that Senator McCain has identified.
  2. Prior to Senator McCain’s announcement, the only possible spokespeople for the Issa-Ross bill were Congressman Issa and Ross. There are no other co-sponsors of the Postal Reform Act of 2011 in the House of Representatives, and it is unclear where the House leadership stands on this issue. All other Senators that have spoken on postal issues have significantly different opinions on postal reform, particularly in regard to adjusting retirement liabilities.
  3. Senator McCain is a more appealing spokesperson for the reform approach developed by Congressman Issa and Ross than either House member. Senator McCain is the former Presidential nominee of the Republican Party, a Senator with strong ties to the Republican establishment, and a Senator who is respected among “serious people” in Washington, DC. Congressman Issa has a more confrontational image on other policy issues and these confrontations have made him an object of attack from Democratic leaning bloggers. Congressman Ross is a freshman with limited experience in interviews and his votes clearly place him in the more conservative wing of the Republican House caucus.
  4. Senator McCain has extensive experience speaking on Sunday talk shows and cable news and his relationship with the press is relatively friendly that will likely give his statements on postal reform more gravitas than less experienced spokesmen.

Right now there is little information about the McCain bill besides what is included in his press release and reported by the Washington Post. No legislative language has been released as of the writing of this post.

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