Congressional Democrats Push for Postal Banking Pilot Program
Last week, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) urged Congress to authorize postal banking pilot programs in urban and rural communities as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. Such a program would allow the U.S. Postal Service to offer checking and savings accounts, ATMs, mobile banking, and loans.
According to a press release issued by Rep. Kaptur’s office, nearly 63 million Americans are considered underbanked and millions live in ‘bank deserts’ with little access to brick and mortar banks. 90 percent of zip codes that lack a bank or credit union are in rural communities. Communities of color are also historically underbanked, including 49 percent of African American households and 46 percent of Latino households.
“As the economy was plummeting and unemployment soared in 2020, the U.S. Congress moved swiftly to provide relief through economic stimulus payments, unemployment insurances, and so much more—yet many who needed the assistance the most lacked the most basic banking services to access these funds,” said Rep. Kaptur. “The U.S. postal service is perfectly positioned to offer more financial services to every zip code: rural, urban, and suburban. It’s clear that we must act now to reestablish postal banking services.”
“Expanding basic financial services at post offices in both rural and urban communities would help families who know just how expensive it is to be poor in America,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “This pilot program takes important steps to help struggling Americans and reintroduce widespread postal banking.”
The lawmakers pushed for $6 million in funding for USPS to implement pilot programs and more non-bank financial services options.
“What we are asking the Post Office to do here is very basic—checking [sic] cashing, money wiring, and taking out money from an ATM without a penalty—but it’ll make a dramatic difference in so many communities and so many families,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “It’ll also provide needed revenue to USPS.”
A report from the USPS Inspector General found that the proposal would create $9 billion in yearly revenue for the Postal Service.