Gillibrand’s Ambitious Postal Bank Bill

By Elise LeSage

Last month, New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand introduced legislation requiring all U.S. post offices to provide banking services. Gillibrand (D), a potential nominee for the 2020 presidential election, hopes that the bill will make banking more accessible and protect financially struggling citizens from predatorily banks and lenders.

A 2015 FDIC survey revealed that 7 percent of households had no bank accounts while 20 percent relied on exploitative banking services like payday loans and subprime credit cards. By requiring the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to offer features such as checking accounts, savings accounts, money transferring services, small loans, and debit cards, Gillibrand hopes her bill will dissuade Americans from turning to riskier, more expensive banking options.

“Millions of Americans are being forced into payday lending schemes that only exacerbate their money problems, and Congress has the ability to wipe out these predatory practices right now by creating a Postal Bank that would be accessible to everyone, everywhere,” she said.

Supporters of the bill also speculate that postal banking will relieve that USPS from the financial losses it has undergone during the past two decades. The bill is currently awaiting a vote from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and does not have any cosponsors at this time.