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Political Notebook

Senate proposals seek to delay Postal Service closings

Lawmakers have struggled with how to reduce the cost of Postal Service programs or benefits their constituents rely on.

AP/File

Lawmakers have struggled with how to reduce the cost of Postal Service programs or benefits their constituents rely on.

WASHINGTON - The Senate has moved to impose new restrictions on the closing of rural post offices.

Under the measure, the Postal Service would be barred from closing post offices for a year if they are located in rural areas, those with fewer than 50,000 people. The exception would be if there was no community opposition.

The measure was among revisions to a bill aimed at stabilizing the Postal Service. The main bill would provide a short-term cash infusion while delaying decisions on thousands of post office closings and ending Saturday mail delivery.

A final vote is expected Wednesday. Lawmakers have struggled with how to reduce the cost of programs or benefits their constituents rely on.

“Individual congressmen can try to save their post office this year or next year and get some brownie points with the electorate for that, but this thing doesn’t work anymore,’’ said Elaine Kamarck, a Harvard University lecturer who led government modernization efforts in the 1990s, during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

“This is a long-term structural trend, and it’s like buggy-whip makers and candle manufacturers - it’s just going to be mostly obsolete,’’ she said about the decline in first-class mail use.

The Postal Service proposes to close as many as 3,700 post offices and more than 220 mail-processing sites across the country. The closings, which may take effect starting May 15, had been postponed by a five-month moratorium urged by a group of senators in December. The Postal Service has estimated the cuts could save $6.1 billion a year to help stave off a default. — GLOBE WIRES

Obama advisers asking unions for convention aid

WASHINGTON - President Obama’s political advisers are pressing labor unions to underwrite September’s Democratic convention to cover a fund-raising shortfall that resulted from a self-imposed ban on corporate donations, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Obama campaign gave representatives of the major unions, including the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the United Auto Workers, a tour of the convention sites in Charlotte, N.C., Monday in advance of a formal request for donations, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal strategy.

The three-day convention will culminate in Obama’s re-nomination in Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 6. So far, the host committee in Charlotte is roughly halfway to its $36.6 million goal.

Four years ago, unions contributed more than $8 million to the Democratic convention in Denver, according to financial disclosure reports.

Jeff Hauser, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO, declined to comment on the new request.

The Republican National Committee has not imposed a similar ban on corporate donations for their convention, Aug. 27-30 in Tampa. It has secured contributions from companies including AT&T Inc, Microsoft Corp, Coca-Cola Co., to meet their $55 million target, said Aileen Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Tampa host committee. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

3 more agents forced out over prostitution scandal

WASHINGTON - Three more Secret Service employees have been forced out of the government, bringing to nine the number of people who have lost their jobs in the prostitution scandal roiling the agency. President Obama said the employees at the center of the sordid episode were “knuckleheads’’ but not representative of the agency that protects his family in the glare of public life.

Two employees have resigned and a third is having his national security clearance revoked, the Secret Service said Tuesday. The employee whose clearance is being revoked can appeal.

Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said one of the resigning agents stayed at the Hilton hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, where Obama stayed for the Summit of Americas. The others stayed at the nearby Hotel Caribe.

Two others have been cleared of serious misconduct. Last week, six employees, including two supervisors, were forced out and another was cleared of serious wrongdoing. The three who were cleared will still face “appropriate administrative action,’’ the Secret Service said.

The scandal erupted after a fight over payment between a Colombian prostitute and a Secret Service employee spilled into the hallway of the Hotel Caribe. A dozen military personnel have also been implicated and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said they have had their security clearances suspended. Obama acknowledged Tuesday that the scandal was “a little distracting’’ and pressed for perspective.

“These guys are incredible,’’ the president said on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. “They protect me. They protect Michelle. They protect the girls. They protect our officials all around the world.

“A couple of knuckleheads shouldn’t detract from what they do. What these guys were thinking, I don’t know. That’s why they’re not there anymore.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two representatives lose in Pennsylvania primary

PITTSBURGH - A pair of incumbent congressmen lost their Democratic primary battles Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

Tim Holden, the longest-serving member of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, was defeated by attorney Matt Cartwright, who spent nearly $400,000. Holden, elected to Congress in 1992, was one of its so-called Blue Dog Democrats.

Cartwright’s campaign criticized Holden as too conservative, citing his vote against President Obama’s health care overhaul.

Cartwright will face Scranton Tea Party activist Laureen Cummings in the fall. Cummings, a small business owner, was the only Republican in the primary.

Representative Mark Critz defeated Representative Jason Altmire to become the Democratic nominee in a new district north and east of Pittsburgh.

Altmire, 44, and Critz, 40, were like-minded Democrats before the Legislature and governor approved a redistricting law combining their districts.

Altmire was seen as a favorite, but Critz attracted support from organized labor. Critz will face Republican lawyer Keith Rothfus in November. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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