April 28, 2020

As Coronavirus Threatens United States Postal Service, Gillibrand Calls For Legislation To Establish Postal Banking, Fund USPS, And Guarantee Access To Ballot Box

Gillibrand’s Postal Banking Act Would Provide Low-Cost, Basic Financial Services to New Yorkers Who Lack Access to Banks, Create Essential Revenue for Postal Service, and Guarantee Americans’ Access to Vote By Mail; Trump Called the Postal Service “A Joke” and Refuses to Provide Emergency Funding

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on Congress to strengthen the United States Postal Service, re-establish postal banking to provide financial security to millions of Americans, and reinvigorate voting rights. Following her New York Times op-ed, Senator Gillibrand argued that legislation like her Postal Banking Act is desperately needed to protect the Postal Service as it faces renewed attacks from the Trump administration, which is unwilling to provide emergency funding during the coronavirus pandemic. The Postal Banking Act would not only establish essential banking services to low-income and rural communities, but it would create approximately $9 billion in revenue for the Postal Service and safeguard democracy by ensuring Americans across the country have access to vote by mail. 

“The Postal Service is an American institution that serves families in every corner of our country and it’s shameful, though not surprising, that the president is willing to let it go bankrupt in favor of privatization,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Postal Service is in desperate need of reinforcement, and providing postal banking for the nearly 10 million American households who lack access to basic banking services is the first step. The Postal Banking Act would not only revitalize the agency, but it would also strengthen our voting rights. This would make a huge difference for families throughout New York, and I will keep fighting as hard as I can to get this important legislation passed into law.”

“Postal banking is the most efficient and effective path toward financial inclusion. The USPS is the only American institution that serves every community in this country–especially the places where private banks have abandoned. By offering a simple checking account, the post office can help millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans avoid the high fee check cashers and alternative service providers. Through low-cost loans, the post office can be a lifeline for the 40% of Americans who do not have a savings of $500 to make it through an emergency. The postal service is an institution committed to maintaining the promise of equality in the U.S. Constitution, having been created by the founding founders to stitch the nation together. Today, more than ever, a public institution like the post office can provide essential financial services as private financial institutions have left so many behind.”   Mehrsa Baradaran, University of California Irvine Law professor and postal banking advocate

"Enacting Senator Gillibrand's Postal Banking Act will have a profound, positive, and enduring impact on America's veterans and their families. Strengthening the U.S. Postal Service will protect the nearly 100,000 veterans who proudly serve in its ranks, and will safeguard countless veterans who rely on USPS to deliver life-saving medication from the VA.  And creating a non-profit community bank in every Post Office will provide safe access to veterans in need of basic financial services and low-interest loans -- shielding veterans from the payday lenders and predatory institutions who often prey upon those who've worn the uniform of our country. Our more than 700,000 VoteVets members nationwide applaud Senator Gillibrand's leadership on this important legislation, and will do everything we can to help pass the Postal Banking Act."  – Will Goodwin, Director of Government Relations for VoteVets 

Facing decreasing revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic and burdened by misguided federal policy that requires the agency to pre-fund its pension and health care obligations 75 years in advance, the viability of the United States Postal Service has become extremely threatened. The Postal Service employs 600,000 workers, including nearly 100,000 vets, and millions of Americans depend 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, instead pushing the agency to raise prices and burden consumers, small businesses, and rural communities who rely on its convenient and affordable services.  

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. Postal banking would also help the millions of 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, postal banking would enable struggling families to gain access to traditional basic banking services and safe financial alternatives. 

Additionally, as Election Day approaches and public health experts warn that social distancing measures will be needed for the foreseeable future, the Postal Banking Act would safeguard American democracy by ensuring everyone has access to vote by mail. By funding the Postal Service, the legislation will help maintain the more than 30,000 locations across the country that serve voters in every community. While states bolster absentee ballot systems to address the current crisis, the Postal Service would act as the engine for American democracy by allowing voters to conveniently and securely cast their ballots.