Senate kills GOP effort to derail postal reform bill

"It's really a grievous problem, not one that can be avoided lightly," Budget Committee ranking member Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsGOP warms to Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report Donald Trump snags endorsements from two GOP chairmen MORE (R-Ala.) said just before the Tuesday vote. "Just last August, we agreed to certain debt limits. And we, I believe, have a moral obligation to not mislead the people who elected us when we said we intend to stay by the limits on increasing debt."

On Monday, Sessions argued the bill would require the Treasury to repay $11.4 billion in money that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) overpaid to its employee retirement system, and would let the USPS defer $23 billion in payments to its retiree health benefit plan. In each case, Sessions said those funds would have to be offset by new government debt, but should instead by offset by spending cuts.

Rep. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP women push Trump on VP pick Sanders is most popular senator, according to constituent poll Senate Dem takes on drugmaker: ‘It’s time to slaughter some hogs’ MORE (R-Maine), one of the sponsors of the bill, repeated her arguments from Monday that the Congressional Budget Office analysis saying the bill costs $34 billion is "misleading." She said that the funds involved come from the USPS, and that returning them would not amount to any new burden on taxpayers.

"There are no taxpayer dollars authorized by this bill or appropriated by this bill," Collins said.

After brief debate, the Senate voted 62-37 in favor of waiving the point of order, just narrowly meeting the 60-vote threshold. Nine Republicans voted with Democrats to waive the point of order: Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika Senate Dems accuse GOP of walking away from Zika deal MORE (Mo.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Thad CochranThad CochranFirst US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika MORE (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), John HoevenJohn HoevenThis week: Congress on track to miss Puerto Rico deadline Week ahead: Senate looks to wrap up energy, water spending bill Overnight Energy: Senate blocks GOP bill targeting water rule MORE (N.D.), Jerry MoranJerry MoranOvernight Finance: McConnell fast-tracks IRS bills; WH pushes free college tuition The Trail 2016: New Trump same as the old GOP lawmaker passes on Kansas Senate primary challenge MORE (Kansas), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report Bishop eyes new Puerto Rico bill after recess Week ahead: Senate looks to wrap up energy, water spending bill MORE (Alaska), Pat RobertsPat RobertsInvestments in research and development are investments in American jobs GOP senator blocks Obama Army nominee over Guantanamo Senators call on Obama administration to address steel industry issues MORE (Kansas) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

With the point of order laid aside, the Senate was expected to immediately consider up to 39 amendments to the postal bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSatanists balk at Cruz comparison Cory Booker is Clinton secret weapon Overnight Energy: Dems block energy spending bill for second day MORE (D-Nev.) said he would take up to 10 minutes per vote, but also encouraged some to be held by voice vote to speed up the process.

— This story was updated at 4:18 p.m. to add vote results.

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