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Public Statements

21st Century Postal Service Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I sit on this committee. I voted on the last postal reform bill. I am not unfamiliar with the issues. I think the question before us is why can't we do both? Why can't we fix the post office and pay for it at the same time, if in fact the CBO says that? Our answer, always, up here is that we want to fix the post office but we don't want to make the hard choices on how to do that.

My colleagues have done great work. There are parts of this bill I don't agree with. I am trying to amend parts of it. But I think we should try to move forward with it. The ultimate question is, will we do what is best for the post office and the American people. And doing what is best for the post office and the American people is any cost where the CBO says we will violate the budget agreement we should pay for.

I will offer right now to come up with easy ways to pay for this bill just through the duplication reports we have gotten from the Government Accountability Office. We all know it is out there. We all know there is $100 billion, at least, that we could come up with by consolidating programs or mandating they be consolidated. So it is not a matter of finding the money, it is a matter of whether we have the will.

We are on a collision course with history that says we are not going to succeed if we don't get our budgets in order. So I agree it is hard to stomach sometimes what the CBO tells us. It doesn't fit with common sense. When it works for us, we use it. When it works against us, we say it doesn't matter. This is a budget point of order, and I think we can do both, and I think we ought to do both.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.


Mr. COBURN. This is a straightforward amendment on conferences. We all have seen what happened with the GSA conference. This is all about transparency and creating a system where we are actually getting to see what is spent on conferences. There is not one branch of the Federal Government that does not have teleconferencing available and videoconferencing available.

What we do know is from 2000 to 2006, the Federal Government--that is the last time we have records--spent over $2.2 billion on conferences. We know the travel budget is $15 billion a year and a minimum $500 million a year is spent on conferences at a time when we need to spend less, and they have grown remarkably during the Bush administration as well as this administration.

This is just simple good government transparency, where we have put on a Web site what they are doing and why they are doing it. We limit foreign conference travel to 50. We limit the maximum amount to $500,000, unless they can make an exception for that based on cause and reason.

So it is simply a good government program to get some visibility on what we are spending on conferences, and I would ask for a voice vote.


Mr. COBURN. This is a straightforward amendment. It modifies the new service requirement to encourage colocation in other businesses.

One of the things that is going to happen to the Postal Service where they can't--85 percent of our post offices are losing money. So what we can do is keep service but have it at a different location for a much lower cost. All this amendment does is encourage the Postmaster General to consider that as part of the service standard in meeting that requirement.


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, this is an amendment we have changed somewhat from the original version to address some of the concerns.

What this amendment does is 2 years from now it will give the authority to the Postmaster General to create a retirement requirement for postal employees. There are 175,000 postal employees eligible for retirement right now. Nothing happens for the next 2 years. It gives plenty of time for planning. It gives him the authority to create that principle, which says that when you become retirement age--because they are going to have a continuing need to have fewer and fewer employees--there is the ability to make retirement mandatory. That is all it does. It is for those who are best capable of retiring with full pensions. They have to have complete and full pension capability. It will allow him to do that 2 years from now--not now but 2 years from now--and it only gives him the authority should he want to. So it does not mandate it, it does not require it, and it actually does not take effect for 2 years.


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, the difference is you are going to pay $25,000 to people to retire. The Postmaster General has already said he needs to have 120,000 fewer employees. That will grow over a period of time. We are setting a precedent with the buyout, one. We are setting a precedent that has never before been done in the Federal Government. No. 2, and probably more important, is the fact that----


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