09.16.15

Congresswoman Lee: “Sky-High Poverty Rate is Shameful and Completely Unacceptable”

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee, chair of the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, released this statement following the Census Bureau distribution of Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage data for 2014:

“The new Census Bureau data reveals that tens of millions of Americans are still struggling to get by with far too little. With nearly fifteen percent of the population living in poverty – that’s one in seven Americans – it’s past time for Congress to get serious about addressing the roots of income inequality and creating pathways out of poverty and into the middle class.

Sadly, poverty rates remain far higher among children, seniors and in communities of color. For African Americans, the poverty rate is 26.2%, more than twice the poverty rate of White Americans (10.1%). For Latinos, the poverty rate is 23.6%. And while children only make up 23% of the population, they account for a third of all Americans living in poverty. This is wrong.  I urge my colleagues to use these numbers as a wake-up call and recommit to combatting poverty in America.

From this report, we saw that congressional policy can have a direct impact on American lives. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 8.8 million. Today, there are millions more individuals who have access to doctors, medicine, and the security of knowing they’re covered.

We must take these lessons and apply bold leadership to the issues of persistent poverty such as wage stagnation and income inequality. Congress should act now to help the millions of families living on the edge.”

###

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.