WASHINGTON, September 17 – Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a conversation on Facebook Live to announce the Postal Banking Act. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has faced repeated attacks by the Trump administration including denying emergency funding during the pandemic and putting postal workers at risk of losing their jobs, disrupting operations and services, and delaying mail delivery. The Postal Banking Act would re-establish postal banking to provide financial security to millions of Americans in low-income and rural communities and create approximately $9 billion in annual revenue and strengthen USPS.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that communities all over America lack traditional banking services,” said Senator Sanders. “During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we need to make sure that everyone in America is able to receive the affordable banking services that they desperately need. No one in America should have to pay a 400 percent interest rate on a $375 loan from a payday lender. The time has come to put predatory lenders out of business and provide affordable banking options to all Americans through the United States Postal Service. And that is exactly what our legislation will do.”
“Being poor in America was expensive before the pandemic, and this unprecedented crisis has made it even harder for under-served communities to access the financial services they need. In addition, the administration’s relentless attacks on the Postal Service and push for privatization is compounding the challenges faced by American families,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The USPS is the only institution that serves every community in the country, from inner cities to rural America. The Postal Banking Act would reinforce the Postal Service, provide critical revenue, and establish postal banking for the nearly 10 million American households who lack access to basic financial services. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation with my friend Senator Sanders, a leader in the fight against predatory financial institutions.”
The Postal Service employs 600,000 workers, including nearly 100,000 vets, and millions of Americans rely on it to deliver their paychecks, prescriptions, and their votes. Yet, the Trump administration has refused to consider emergency funding for the agency in coronavirus relief legislation. Furthermore, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has imposed destructive changes that have slowed mail and compromised services for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and families who rely on the mail for medicines, essential goods, voting, correspondence, and for income. With even more voters relying on mail in ballots for November these recent changes to USPS could increase costs for states and make it impossible for election mail to be delivered in time.
The Postal Banking Act would strengthen the Postal Service by establishing a nonprofit bank offering low-cost checking and savings accounts, ATMs, mobile banking, and low-interest loans. According to a report from the USPS Inspector General, this proposal would create $9 billion in revenue for the Postal Service each year. The postal bank would provide financial services to Americans who have been economically devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Predatory financial services such as prepaid debit cards, rent-to-own stores, and overdraft fees, often exploit the most vulnerable populations – including low income households, rural communities, veterans and families of active duty personnel – especially in times of economic crisis. Instead of turning to these predatory services, families would gain access to traditional basic banking services and safe financial alternatives through the postal bank.
The legislation has been endorsed by Alliance for Retired Americans, American Family Voices, Center for Popular Democracy, Color of Change, Family Farm Defenders, Farm Aid, Indivisible, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, MoveOn, NETWORK Lobby Catholics for Social Justice, Our Revolution, Paragon Florida, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, Stand By Your Mail: The People’s Postal Rescue Campaign, Take on Wall Street, and Working Families Party.