National efforts toward public banking took a leap forward into mainstream awareness last week as the House Committee on Financial Services held one of its first hearings on the Public Banking Act of 2021, first introduced last year as HR 8721. Two PBI Advisory Board members — Ameya Pawar and Mehrsa Baradaran — and New Economy Project Co-Executive Director Deyanira Del Río were among the witnesses. They endured a barrage of disparaging remarks, but New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a strong comeback. She did not mince words in her frustration over some committee members’ ignorance of the legislation being discussed. A tweet containing a 40-second clip of her exchange has now been viewed 1.9 million times and covered by Newsweek, Business Insider, and Democracy Now.
While minimized by media outlets as a partisan rebuke, the exchange brings a great deal more attention to the issue of the hearing: public banking. A Daily Kos post by Ian Douglas Rushlau redirects the incident’s focus toward the “incredibly important” topic of public banking, quoting PBI’s website and PBI Chair Ellen Brown.