*Legislative Technicality Causes Northup to Rewrite Bill

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Because of a legislative technicality, U.S. Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY) will change her bill that was passed last week by the House Appropriations Committee. The original bill eliminated the authority of the U.S. Postal Service to set international rates.

Northup said the move was an oversight and that she believed the bill would let the Board of Governors maintain jurisdiction over international rate-making capabilities. However, from a technical viewpoint, the amendment fully replaced Section 407 of the Postal Reorganization Act, where the authority for the postal service to set international rates also appears. By replacing the section, she inadvertently eliminated its authority.

The new section gives the U.S. Trade Representative, Charlene Barshefsky, the authority to handle all postal negotiations.

"By eliminating that section [where the authority for the postal service to set international rates appears], it put the Postal Service under the [domestic] rate-making process [whereby the Postal Rate Commission oversees this process]," said Richard Barton, the Direct Marketing Association's senior vice president of congressional relations.

Some insiders say that Northup and her constituents did not notice the oversight and did not even realize what they had done; others said a craftsman was at work and did it deliberately. Some also believe that the United Parcel Service wrote the bill for Northup, and knew what it was doing all along.

But, regardless, Northup has requested a self-executed rule from the Rules Committee that will automatically correct this mistake when it comes to the floor. The Rules Committee met on Tuesday afternoon.

Northup spokeswoman Julie Carter said, "It was a complete mistake. It is not our intention at all to eliminate the postal service to have authority over international rate-making. All we are doing is letting the U.S. Trade Rep. negotiate with the postal service still at the table. We are not trying to take power away from them."

According to Barton, the Full House may consider the Treasury-Postal Appropriations Bill, which includes the Northup Amendment, on Thursday. If the bill passes, then the Senate will look at the bill, which probably will not include the amendment. If it does not pass the bill, then it will go to conference. (The Senate Treasury-Postal Subcommittee approved the Senate version of the Treasury-Postal Appropriations Bill late Monday. This bill does not include the Northup amendment.)

However, insiders say the bill will probably not pass. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer (R-TX) and International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gillman (R-NY) have publicly objected to the bill. Also, according to Barton, the U.S. Trade Representative is planning to send a letter to the Rules Committee contesting it.

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