Faith-Based and Community Leaders from Across the Country Hold Briefing with Congressional Progressive Caucus, Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, and Other Members of Congress on Urgent Call for Policies that Meet the Needs of the 140 Million Poor and Low-Wealth People in America
Washington, D.C.—On Wednesday, June 15th, members of Congress convened to hear directly from poor and low-income people who are part of the Poor People’s Campaign.
Twelve poor people and low-wage workers, along with the National Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign, offered testimony to members of Congress on a “Third Reconstruction Agenda” to confront systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of health care, militarism and the false narratives of religious nationalism and white supremacy. These testifiers are among 140 million people who are poor or low-income living in the US, accounting for over 40 percent of the population and nearly one-third of the electorate.
“I stand with the Poor People’s Campaign’s demand that our government prioritize peace by reducing military spending by at least 10% now and redirecting those resources towards diplomacy, humanitarian aid and the priorities in this agenda. I support their demand that spending on mass incarceration, immigration enforcement and policing be redirected towards community-based infrastructure, programs and resources that prioritize communities most impacted by this violence,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
“I’m proud to stand in solidarity with the Poor People’s Campaign to draw greater attention to the daily hardships encountered by Americans living with economic insecurity. As Majority Leader, I’ve made the fight against poverty a cornerstone of House Democrats’ agenda, working with Rep. Barbara Lee to launch our Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, and bringing legislation to the Floor to make health care, housing, education, child care, and elder care more affordable and accessible. We must continue these efforts and strive to protect programs that keep millions of Americans from experiencing hunger and homelessness and to help those facing these challenges find their way out of poverty,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, co-chair of the Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
“I join the Poor People’s Campaign in their demand that we expand and protect Medicare and Medicaid; that we achieve a universal, single-payer national health care system so that everyone, regardless of income, ability, gender expression, documentation, carceral status or pre-existing conditions can get the care they deserve; and that we create a system that works for everyone and not just the privileged few,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“We look forward to encouraging our allies to keep fighting and pushing those against us to see how they are hurting their people. We will make it clear this is not a momentary effort; we won’t be silent anymore - with our voices, votes, and non-violent protest, including civil disobedience if necessary. We must press members of Congress on our demands that the laws, legislation, and budgets of this nation be based on the five key principles of the US Constitution: to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and future generations. We will provide testimony that poor and low-income people voted in record numbers in 2020, accounting for nearly one-third of all votes,” said Rev. Drs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis, National Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign
“At a time when nearly 30 million U.S. workers earn less than $15 per hour, it is time for the nation to embrace a federal minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, a commitment to enact living wages in a timely manner, and the right to form and join unions for all workers,” said Heidi Shierholz, President of the Economic Policy Institute.
“We applaud the Poor People’s Campaign calling out the outrage that billionaire wealth surged by over $2 trillion during the pandemic, but that under current tax laws these gains go largely untaxed? We join them in their demand that fair taxation on the ultra-rich, corporations and Wall Street,” said Tope Folarin, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies.
- U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13), Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity
- U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)
- Bishop William J. Barber, II, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, National Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign
- Aaron Scott on rural poverty in America, Washington State
- Guadelupe de la Cruz on immigration and the child tax credit, Florida
- Murriel Wiley on working multiple jobs, Arkansas
- Kenya Slaughter on organizing at Dollar General, Louisiana
- Morgan Leavy on organizing at Starbucks, Texas
- Jessica Boyles on being a home health care worker, Pennsylvania
- Rev. Carolyn Foster on voting rights and health care, Alabama
- Dontae Sharpe on voting rights of incarcerated people, North Carolina
- Catherine Jozwick on pollution, West Virginia
- Fernando Garcia on gun violence and the Southern border, Texas
- Kyle Bibby on militarism and the war economy, New Jersey
- Vanessa Nosie on Apache Stronghold struggle in Oak Flat, Arizona
- Poor People's Campaign
- Repairers of the Breach
- Kairos Center
- Institute for Policy Studies
- Economic Policy Institute
- Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity