Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her Democratic colleagues, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), announced a “postal banking” bill that would expand the United States Postal Service on Thursday. According to Ocasio-Cortez, expanding the services the USPS provides would help urban and rural Americans alike.
“This issue is particularly meaningful to me; when just three or four years ago I was waitressing in downtown Manhattan and I worked for cash tips and at the end of my shift I would have, you know, $100 in tips or so or after a couple days there would be a couple hundred dollars in cash in my bag and I’d hop on the six train and then I’d go home to my community in the Bronx,” she explained during a press conference.
Ocasio-Cortez said she lived near a check cashing business while she was a waitress. She now lives around the corner from another one.
“I can’t tell you how many families I see go in and they can’t afford to be banked. Think about that, how many millions of people in this country that either can’t afford to be banked or struggle to be banked,” she said. “And so they’ll show up to a check cashing place. Imagine cashing your stimulus check for $1,400 and having 10% to 20% of that check taken away from you. Those are diapers. That’s baby formula. And that’s food that is taken out of the hands of the families just to cash a check.”
According to the congresswoman, Americans utilize check cashing services because “banks won’t bank them because it’s not profitable enough to bank certain communities to a level that they need.”
Ocasio-Cortez said the bill is “simple” and expands the United States Postal Services’ current offerings.
“When you go to [the post office] to mail what you need to mail, to buy stamps, to take a photo or file for your passport, that you’re just able to do a few more things, to wire funds if you need to wire funds, to cash a check. ” she explained. “These are very basic things.”
The congresswoman said Americans would have the ability to pull funds from an ATM “without having a bunch of money taken out when you’re just going to take out a couple of dollars.”
In New York City, where Bodegas are popular, people have the option of withdrawing bills in $5 increments, the congresswoman explained. The downside, however, is the enormous fees associated with the withdrawal.
“Imagine you go to an ATM to take out a $5 increment and they charge you a $3 fee,” Ocasio-Cortez said, calling it “unacceptable.”
“It doesn’t have to be. And not only that, but the postal service is awesome!” she said. “We love the postal service! Americans love the postal service. They want to protect the postal service. They want to expand the postal service and this bill does just that, raising over $1 billion in revenue for our postal services so that everyone from our babies to our seniors can continue to enjoy the services they provide.”
BANKING: Rep. @AOC pushes for pilot program for post offices to provide financial services in under-banked communities: "The Postal Service is awesome. Americans love the Postal Service." pic.twitter.com/3ikmDy0X72
— Forbes (@Forbes) April 15, 2021
Gillibrand said expanding the agency’s services to include banking services “could generate $1.1 billion in additional revenue for USPS annually after five years,” a letter to the Senate Financial Services Subcommittee chairman and ranking member indicate.
The Senate version of the bill that Gillibrand is co-sponsoring would allocate $6 million “for a pilot program to test whether a non-profit bank located in a post office would benefit customers in underserved communities,” WGRZ-TV reported.
The USPS continues to hemorrhage money on an annual basis. According to a General Accountability Officer (GAO) report, the agency lost a total of “$87 billion over the last 14 fiscal years – including $9.2 billion in fiscal years 2020.” The agency expects to lose an additional “$9.7 billion in fiscal year 2021,” despite a $2 billion increase in revenue and an uptick in package deliveries due to the pandemic, Forbes reported.