The job of postmaster general was once one of the country's most politically powerful. It is also one of the oldest; a version of the position existed before the Declaration of Independence.
But today, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe finds himself continually caught in the political crossfire. Donahoe is tangling with unions and members of Congress over how to manage the Postal Service's future — as it faces huge losses, dwindling mail volume and ballooning costs.
It may seem strange now, but Donahoe was originally drawn to postal work by the money.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. It's Markey in Massachusetts, the court nixes DOMA and Prop 8, and the president bows to the summer heat and discards his jacket to take on climate change. It's Wednesday, and time for a...
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It's not that sexy.
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
President Obama flew home from Europe less than a week ago, and this morning, he is headed back overseas. This time, Air Force One is bound for Africa. It's a weeklong journey that will take the president and his family to three countries covering vastly different regions. This is Obama's first extended trip to the continent as president.
This was the scene last night in the Texas Capitol building.
MONTAGNE: Crowds who came out to support a nearly 11-hour filibuster by Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis erupted in screams in an attempt to stop a vote on a bill that would have forced all but a handful of abortion clinics in Texas to close. That's because, among other things, the bill would require clinics be upgraded to ambulatory surgical centers, something that the clinics say they can't afford.
The official clock ran out on Texas lawmakers overnight, which effectively killed a bill that would have dramatically restricted abortion in the nation's second most populous state. Hours of chaos and confusion in Austin finally lifted as Texas Senate leaders decided that the vote on Senate Bill 5 did not clear a constitutionally-mandated hurdle that it pass before midnight.
By midnight Texas time, it was all over but the parliamentary inquiries. After a nearly 11-hour filibuster attempt by state Sen. Wendy Davis to block sweeping restrictions on abortion, the Republican-dominated Texas Senate successfully shut down the filibuster on points of order. (See update at the bottom of this post.)
"This is probably the worst night that I've experienced since I've been in the Senate, maybe since I've been in public life," said state Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat from Austin.