Chaired by Congresswoman Lee, the mission of the Task Force is to raise the awareness of Members of Congress and the American people about the ongoing crisis of poverty, the positive human and economic impacts of reducing and eliminating poverty, as well as the need for a comprehensive national effort to eradicate poverty and remove barriers to opportunity that prevent low-income Americans from reaching the middle class.
“I am pleased to announce the creation of a Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, to be chaired in the 113th Congress by Rep. Barbara Lee," said Whip Hoyer. "Under her direction, this new Task Force will explore ways our Caucus can better address the challenges of poverty by creating new opportunities for the most vulnerable in our society to access affordable higher education, succeed in the job market, and attain homeownership. House Democrats have already been active in promoting a comprehensive jobs plan, Make It In America, that would grow our middle class by enhancing our public education system, helping entrepreneurs launch small businesses, and attracting manufacturing jobs back to our shores. And we’ve been equally active in pushing for a balanced solution to avert the sequester and responsibly reduce the deficit in a way that protects the most vulnerable Americans. I am hopeful that this new Task Force will develop policy ideas that can be translated into legislation to help reduce poverty and create a better future for all Americans.”
“The timing of the launch of this Task Force cannot be overlooked. Sequester is looming, and the indiscriminate cuts would not only hurt the poor first, but hurt them the most. The first step in eradicating poverty is “do no harm,” and we are dangerously close to losing our social safety net that so many struggling families depend on,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Poverty touches all of us in this country. Nearly 50 million of our neighbors, 16 million of them children, live in poverty. This is unconscionable, and in the richest nation on the planet, it’s time to end the scourge of poverty for good.”
In the coming months, the Task Force will consult with key stakeholders and work closely with the Administration to develop support for a national strategy to eliminate barriers to opportunity and eradicate poverty, with the initial goal of cutting poverty in half in ten years. Key principles will include:
1) enhancing the coordination and alignment of federal, state, and local anti-poverty programs to maximize the impact of every federal dollar in the fight against poverty;
2) strengthening federal oversight of anti-poverty programs by improving how The United States measures and evaluates the impact of anti-poverty programs, as well as the long term economic outcomes of the Americans who receive assistance;
3) removing barriers and obstacles that prevent low-income Americans from joining the middle class.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, national poverty rates sit at 15% overall, 21.9% for children, and 27.6% for African-Americans. Proven and effective ongoing programs include the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, SNAP and WIC nutrition aid, and unemployment insurance.
To learn more about poverty rates in the United States, visit the U.S. Census Bureau.
Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip as well as the Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus(CPC), where she serves as the Co-Chair of the CPC Peace and Security Task Force, as well as founder and Co-Chair of the Out of Poverty Caucus.