House GOP Demands Info About ‘Secret’ Postal Banking Pilot

Key House Republicans want to know why the U.S. Postal Service “quietly” launched a banking pilot program without consulting with members of Congress.

“As you know, we strongly object to the concept of postal banking, and the Postal Service lacks the statutory authority to expand its non-postal banking services absent Congressional approval,” House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking Republican James Comer of Kentucky and House Financial Services Committee ranking GOP member Patrick McHenry of North Carolina wrote in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Friday.

They added, “It is unclear why the Postal Service believes itself to be ready for the added responsibility of offering expanded financial services.”

The Postal Service rolled out a pilot program at USPS retail locations on Sept. 13 in the Washington, DC; Falls Church, VA; Baltimore, MD; and Bronx, NY, areas. Customers in these locations can purchase a single-use gift card for up to $500. Checks larger than that will not be accepted, and no cash will be disbursed.

Policymakers have debated for many years whether the Postal Service should offer banking services. Proponents, including many Democrats, have argued that postal banking would reach many people who do not have easy access to traditional financial services.

Opponents, including many Republicans and financial services trade groups, have argued that the Postal Service is ill equipped to provide banking services.

The Credit Union National Association and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions have said that if Congress wants to ensure that the unbanked have access to financial services, lawmakers should expand credit union field of membership limits to allow them to do that.

In their letter, Comer and McHenry said that DeJoy never mentioned banking when he met with members of Congress to discuss his plans for improving the Postal Service, which has lost billions of dollars in recent decades.

“The Postal Service’s involvement in financial services is certainly a significant deviation from the plans for reform that you communicated to Congress in public and in private,” they wrote. “The quiet launch of this pilot program undermines the trust established during your engagements with Congress and raises questions as to whether you worked with us in good faith.”

They added that the Postal Service’s ten-year plan does not refer to postal banking. They conclude by asking DeJoy for a briefing on the issue by the end of this week.

Related:

Post Offices Are Testing Check-Cashing Service; NAFCU Says End It

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