Press Releases

Democratic Lawmakers Call for Series of Hearings Focused on Poverty

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Washington, DC, January 14, 2014 | comments
As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s call for a “War on Poverty,” Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee are calling on Republican Leadership to explore strategies that can further reduce or eliminate the number of impoverished children and families living in the United States.

In a letter to Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the Democrats highlighted the growing gap between rich and poor in the United States and urged a series of hearings on policies that would increase wages and improve the adequacy and affordability of housing. In addition, the letter suggests hearings on how to improve accountability in the financial system and expand access to financial services in underserved communities. The letter is led by Rep. Maxine Waters (CA), top Democrat on the Committee and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN). All 27 Committee Democrats have signed the letter.

“The gap between the rich and the poor in America has become a chasm,” the letter reads. “Today, 20 percent of the income in our country goes to the top one percent of Americans. The top one percent holds about 40 percent of the country’s wealth. This inequity trickles down into our communities, our housing and rental markets, and our financial system, where a lack of access to banking services often causes households to take on large debt burdens.”

With jurisdiction over the nation’s housing and financial services sectors – including banking, insurance, real estate, securities, and public and assisted housing – the Committee is well-positioned to explore policies that combat poverty. To date, no hearings exploring these issues have been scheduled.

The letter continues, “We would be glad to work with you to hold hearings to explore what we have learned and what else we need to do to improve wages, housing adequacy and affordability and increase access to the financial mainstream.”
 
Full text of the letter is below. A signed copy is available here.

January 13, 2014

 

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
Chairman
Financial Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Hensarling,
 
In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty announced by President Lyndon Baines Johnson on January 8, 1964, we request that the Financial Services Committee commit to holding a series of hearings on strategies to reduce and eliminate poverty. The War on Poverty aimed to reduce joblessness, eliminate inadequate housing and housing discrimination, and address inadequate incomes. A number of the laws enacted and programs implemented since 1964 fall under the jurisdiction of the Financial Services Committee.
 
The gap between the rich and the poor in America has become a chasm. Today, 20 percent of the income in our country goes to the top one percent of Americans. The top one percent holds about 40 percent of the country’s wealth. This inequity trickles down into our communities, our housing and rental markets, and our financial system, where a lack of access to banking services often causes households to take on large debt burdens.
 
We would be glad to work with you to hold hearings to explore what we have learned and what else we need to do to improve wages, housing adequacy and affordability and increase access to the financial mainstream. Hearings could examine strategies that improve accountability in the financial system, expand access to financial services in urban, rural, tribal and suburban communities, invest in locally-based community development activities, community development corporations, community development financial institutions, and enable remittances.
 
We welcome the opportunity to collaborate on hearings that note our successes at reducing poverty and recommend suggestions that strengthen our future.

Sincerely,

Keith Ellison (MN)                                              
Maxine Waters (CA)
Carolyn B. Maloney (NY)
Nydia M. Velázquez (NY)
Brad Sherman (CA)                                             
Gregory W. Meeks (NY)
Michael E. Capuano (MA) 
Rubén Hinojosa (TX)
William Lacy Clay (MO)    
Carolyn McCarthy (NY)
Stephen Lynch (MA)
David Scott (GA)
Al Green (TX)                                       
Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
Gwen Moore (WI)                                               
Ed Perlmutter (CO)
James Himes (CT)
Gary Peters (MI)
John C. Carney (DE)    
Terri Sewell (AL)
Bill Foster (IL)
Daniel T. Kildee (MI)
Patrick Murphy (FL)           
John K. Delaney (MD)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)           
Joyce Beatty (OH)
Denny Heck (WA)

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