On April 28th, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Brunswick, held a video press conference calling on Congress to protect the United States Postal Service, after it faced attacks from the Trump administration, which is unwilling to provide the Postal Service emergency funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gillibrand was joined by Mehrsa Baradaran, University of California Irvine Law professor and postal banking advocate, and Will Goodwin, director of government relations at VoteVets.
Gillibrand proposed that her legislation, the Postal Banking Act, is necessary to protect the USPS. Gillibrand announced the legislation would create postal banks, which would establish a retail bank in the U.S. Postal Service’s 30,000 locations, including the 1,506 locations in New York state.
This would provide essential banking services to low-income Americans, particularly communities of color and rural communities. It would offer benefits like low-cost checking and savings accounts, low-interest loans and would have ATMs and mobile banking available.
It would have the potential to drive pricey predatory lenders out of business. According to a report from the USPS Inspector General, this proposal would also generate $9 billion in revenue for the post office each year.
“Even before the crisis, families with no other options are spending $100 billion a year to cash checks, send money to relatives, and take out payday loans. It’s expensive to be poor in America,” Gillibrand said.
The Postal Banking Act would also eliminate pre-funding for the federal organization. The USPS is the only federal organization required to pre-fund its pension and healthcare obligations 75 years in advance.
“The Postal Service’s finances are uniquely strained. The President’s own Postal Task Force found that if the Postal Service was allowed to follow the same pay as you go policy as every other agency, it would’ve been profitable before the pandemic,” Gillibrand said.
Lastly, the act would protect voting rights by ensuring the Postal Service is able to deliver ballots.
“Election Day is approaching, but public health experts continue to advise avoiding crowds and long lines. That means that this year, a mailbox will need to be the ballot box,” said Gillibrand.