*House Passes Treasury-Postal Bill

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The House passed its version of the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill late Thursday night with a voice vote of 218-203. The bill includes a new version of the Northup amendment.

DMers were concerned about a former version of the amendment that authorized the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate postal agreements with foreign countries at the Universal Postal Union. The new version, instead, now says the USPS can't use any money from the Appropriations Committee to pay for representation before the union.

Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, said both Democrats and Republicans think the new version of the amendment is meaningless, despite the fact that it was passed.

"Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), chairman of the Treasury-Postal subcommittee, said that there is no money for that use in the bill anyway, so this is a meaningless amendment." he said. "Kolbe said that he'd accept it anyway because it's meaningless."

The bill also contains the Wicker amendment, which says that no money appropriated for the USPS may be used for initiatives such as packaging, sales of office supplies, volume copying and sales of novelty items. Even though some form of the Northup amendment has passed -- and it has no substantive meaning -- the direct marketing and postal communities are gearing up for what will happen next.

"Now we have to look and see what will happen on the Senate side," Cerasale said. "There has been talk of some form of compromise representation to the UPU, and I don't know if that will come through in Congress. So, the situation is not over and we will still have to be pretty diligent."

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