Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) participated in a press call with Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, on the "Half-in-Ten" Act they introduced today. This bill would establish the Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Poverty, which would develop and implement a national strategy to reduce poverty by half in ten years, as well as provide regular reports on their progress. Below are a copy of his opening remarks:
“Thank you, Congresswoman Lee. I appreciate your leadership on the issue of combating poverty in our country and for chairing the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
“I am proud to be a cosponsor of the ‘Half-in-Ten’ Act, which builds on the task force’s work of raising the awareness of the ongoing crisis of poverty and seeking ways for Congress to help alleviate it in our communities. Our bill would create a federal interagency working group on reducing poverty within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, with several important goals.
“First and foremost, it would be tasked with developing a strategy for reducing poverty by half within a decade. Second, it will oversee, coordinate, and integrate federal policies on poverty reduction and increasing long-term economic stability for more Americans. Third, it will serve as a clearinghouse for best practices among the various programs working on alleviating poverty and growing opportunities. And it will improve data collection and test models of benefit delivery systems with an eye toward raising success rates.
“Taking these steps is especially important as the devastating Republican policy of sequester takes a blunt axe to critical programs serving those in the greatest economic need.
“As outlined in our op-ed that ran in the Huffington Post yesterday, anti-poverty programs like Head Start, Meals on Wheels, housing assistance, and unemployment insurance are all at risk of severe cuts under this policy.
“Congress should be taking steps to make it easier for low-income Americans to enter the middle class, not harder. Instead of setting up roadblocks on the pathways out of poverty, Congress ought to be building ladders of opportunity and helping the private sector create jobs.
“We can start just that by completing our work on a balanced approach to deficit reduction that replaces the sequester and places our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path, while protecting the most vulnerable.
“I thank you for taking the time to participate in this call, and I’ll now turn it back over to the Congresswoman.”