The US Postal Service is expanding to four locations on the East Coast in a pilot program that resembles a policy set out in the “Recommendations from the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force“from 2020 Presidents Campaign.
In April, some MPs on the Left, including Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., unsuccessfully pushed for a pilot program for post banks to be included in an expenditure bill.
But the US Postal Service set up this particular program without Congressional approval or notified Congress, which raised concerns among Republicans, one of whom called it the “gateway to socialized banking.”
The test pilot began September 13 at four US Postal Service retail locations in the District of Columbia; Falls Church, Virginia; Baltimore; and the Bronx District in New York City.
In a statement last April, Ocasio-Cortez said her Bronx district would benefit from post banking.
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âSo many families in my community in the Bronx cannot afford banking. Instead, they check the registers and pay relatively high fees – money that is urgently needed for food, rent and diapers. ” Ocasio-Cortez said in April. âWhat we’re asking the Post Office to do here is very simple – check cash, transfer money, and withdraw money from an ATM with no penalty, but it’s going to make a dramatic difference in so many communities and so many families. I will also provide USPS with the revenue it needs. “
The pilot program is significantly less ambitious than what the progressive legislators have proposed. The four post offices are participating in a new service that enables customers to purchase gift vouchers with payroll and business checks. It is intended to offer customers an alternative to traditional check cashing, according to Swiss Post.
Customers at these locations can purchase a one-time gift card worth up to $ 500 and use their business or paycheck as payment. According to the USPS, which started the pilot in collaboration with the American Postal Workers Union, no cash is paid out.
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On October 22, Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C., senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., Senior member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, sent a letter To Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for inquiring about the pilot program and why it was never disclosed to Congress.
Post officers are downplaying the program.
“We have contacted the convention bureaus directly and plan to inform them in the coming weeks,” USPS spokeswoman Tatiana Roy told FOX Business on Monday in an email.
“We believe that once we have the opportunity to clarify the limited nature, authority and scope of the test pilot, the concerns raised will be allayed,” Roy continued. “The pilot is just a test of a new payment method (payroll and business checks) for our existing gift card product, a product that the postal service has clear sales powers to [the] publicly.”
McHenry of the House Financial Services Committee is not convinced.
“Post offices are not banks. The provision of financial products differs from the mission of the USPS, no matter how narrowly this study is defined,” McHenry said in a statement to FOX Business on Tuesday. “Postbanking is a gateway to socialized banking and will harm community banks and the customers they serve.”
In April, Sens. Sanders and Kristen Gillibrand, DN.Y., along with three House Democrats – Ocasio-Cortez, Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio – urged Congress Launch pilot programs for post banks in rural and urban communities across the country. Last year Sanders and Gillibrand beat the “Postbank Act“for the provision of banking services at post offices.
“Nobody in America should have to pay 400 percent interest on a $ 375 loan from a payday lender,” Sanders said when he unveiled options to all Americans through the United States Postal Service in September 2020. ”
Sanders urged the expansion of the US postal service to include banking during the campaigns for the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The “Unified Task Force“Recommendations produced by then-candidate Joe Biden and Sanders’ campaigns after the Democratic primary refer to ‘post banking’ as a measure to ensure ‘equal access to banking and financial services’.
“The government should provide easily accessible service locations, especially post banking, to give everyone access to physical banking locations,” the Biden-Sanders Task Force report said.
The Washington Post noted in October that the USPS was “quietly” implementing the program. The two Republicans are occupied with the quiet part.
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In February, DeJoy did not bring up the idea while testifying to Congress, according to the letter from Comer and McHenry. At the beginning of this year, the Post published a 60-page reform plan.Delivering for America: Our vision and ten year plan for achieving financial sustainability and service excellence, “which also did not mention expansion into financial services.
In their letter to DeJoy, the two GOP House members also point out sustainability issues that Swiss Post is already facing.
In 2020, the U.S. Postal Service made a net loss of $ 9.2 billion and has lost approximately $ 87 billion over the past 14 years, the letter said.
“In addition to the postal service’s balance sheet – which in itself precludes an expansion to financial services – there are other reasons for concern,” said McHenry and Comer’s letter to DeJoy. âFor example, a massive cybersecurity breach exposed social security numbers and other sensitive data for millions of USPS customers and employees. The Office of Inspector General noted that USPS is operating with inadequate controls to combat money laundering programs. It is unclear why the postal service believes itself “to be ready for the additional responsibility of providing expanded financial services.”
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But this idea could help the ailing financial situation, says Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.
“New services will not only keep people’s mail running well, but also generate the income they need,” Dimondstein told the Washington Post in October.