GOP Senators: USPS May Lack Legal Authority for Financial Services Pilot

A group of Republican senators led by Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) today raised concerns about a recent effort by the U.S. Postal Service to launch a pilot program offering expanded financial services—including check-cashing services—at certain locations in four U.S. cities. Specifically, they expressed concern that USPS lacks the legal authority to initiate the program, and that the pilot “raises serious questions about whether these activities waste taxpayer resources without any commensurate benefit.”

The lawmakers asked the USPS to provide information by Dec. 3 to support that the pilot program is in compliance with applicable legal requirements. “Given substantial financial shortfalls, a mission-specific focus on mail delivery, and a history of unsuccessfully competing with private sector alternatives, we are highly skeptical that the Postal Service can safely and effectively provide financial services,” they wrote. “The unilateral action to implement the pilot program and expand into untested consumer financial services raises significant policy and legal questions, and we must ensure that the Postal Service has not exceeded the applicable statutory authority.”
More broadly, the letter pushed back against the “radical expansion of the government’s role in providing financial services,” such as through offering Federal Reserve retail bank accounts at post offices—something the senators said would be “equally unnecessary and ill-advised.”