Under the shadow of a potential financial doomsday, House Speaker John Boehner kept his debt plan off the floor on Thursday night. Instead, he turned legislators to the important business of renaming post offices.
Boehner used the seemingly inconsequential suspension bills to buy time as he tried to drum up much-needed votes to pass his debt plan. But if anyone is critical of the House's penchant for renaming post offices, it's the speaker himself.
"With all the challenges facing our nation, it is absurd that Congress spends so much time on naming post offices, congratulating sports teams, and celebrating the birthdays of historical figures," Boehner said in a September 2010 speech in Washington.
Promising reform, the newly-minted Republican majority established rules preventing resolutions that commend, congratulate, or celebrate an "entity, event, group, individual, institution, team, or government program."
"We're pretty well committed to the House doing substantive work," Boehner said in May. "All of the commemorative resolutions that used to be brought to the floor of the House, some of them, I thought were quite meaningless."
Missing from that list of once-common suspension bills is a ban against renaming post offices.
That allowed the House Thursday night to mull over renaming eight post offices. A facility as far away as Guam was to be rechristened the "John Pangelinan Gerber Post Office Building." Peoria, Illinois would see its post office named after Charles ‘Chip' Lawrence Chan, who died on 9/11. Three of the eight proposals were sponsored by Republicans. One of the bills passed with a voice vote, while the other seven were postponed.
The delay tactic won the speaker time, but that time did not win him enough votes to pass his plan. And if his past comments are any indication, it's not the first time the U.S Postal Service has failed to meet the Ohio Republican's needs.
"If you like going to the DMV and think they do a great job, or you like going to the post office and think it's the most efficient thing you've run into, then you'll love the government run health care system," he quipped at a June 2009 news conference.