Gillibrand seeks emergency funding for Postal Service

Posted 29 April 2020 at 10:49 am

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday 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.

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.”

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.

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