Senate Republicans and Democrats continued negotiations Friday over two amendments to a $318 billion Defense Department appropriations bill that offer differing amounts for the U.S. Postal Service.
The negotiations followed back-to-back 50-48 roll calls Thursday night in which Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to waive budget rules and approve an amendment by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV. His amendment includes $875 million for the postal service as part of $7.5 billion for homeland defense and $7.5 billion to help New York and other areas recover from the Sept. 11 attacks.
Competing with Byrd's proposal was an amendment introduced Thursday afternoon by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, that would redistribute the $20 billion already set aside for security, rebuilding and other Sept. 11-related measures. This money is a first round of funding through the first quarter of 2002, Stevens said, after which President Bush is expected to request more money. Under Stevens' proposal, the USPS would get $575 million.
The president has said that he will veto any bill that appropriates more money for homeland defense.
The mailing community anxiously awaits the outcome of the negotiations. While most hope that the USPS will still get the full $875 million Byrd proposed, most think the USPS will end up with the $575 million in Stevens' proposal.