Progressive Members of Congress Urge Leadership to Include Public Banking in COVID-19 Response

May 29, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, six progressive members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer, urging them to include a public banking option for state and local governments in the next COVID-19 relief bill. The letter was led by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Ilhan Omar (MN-05). Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) also joined the letter. 

The members believe that including a public banking option would address critical structural issues within the banking system that have disproportionately burdened low-income communities. By allowing state and local governments to offer a public banking option, the most vulnerable communities would have access to banking services. 

“For decades, profit-motivated decisions have driven bank branches to disappear from rural areas and low-income communities, creating banking deserts that are dominated by predatory cash-advance stores. Given that the goal of public banks would be to serve all individuals, these locally controlled banks would not need to weigh their servicing decisions on profitability alone,” the letter read.

The group of lawmakers also pointed to the potential for public banking to be in postal offices. A notable mention as the United States Postal Service continues to explore funding options to address to undue burden Congress imposed on USPS in 2006 to prepay retiree benefits. 

Public banking would offer transformative solutions for unbanked and underbanked communities. 

The complete letter can be viewed here


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