A picture of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

About Rep. Sheila
  • Congressional Black Caucus

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2014-01-08

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    JACKSON LEE. I want to thank the gentlelady from California for her leadership.



    Mr. Speaker, simply, we can begin to attack poverty in 2014 by extending the unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans.

    Thank you, President Johnson, as we honor the fight against the poverty that has encompassed so many Americans. The war on poverty is a war to be won. We thank you for VISTA, the Child Nutrition, the National School Lunch, the Food Stamp program, the Community Action Programs, the Indian Reservation Programs, and Legal Services.

    I served on the board of the Gulfcoast Legal Services, and we say to our colleagues: if you would look at the red that is on these sheets, you will know that poverty does not belong to any one Member. It belongs to all Members. All States have individuals who are living below the poverty line. It is time to continue the fight against poverty through unemployment insurance, through job training, through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, through child care, and Head Start--a vital, vital, vital transition of opportunity for poor children. It is time to continue that fight.

    It is our pledge and our commitment, along with legislation that I intend to introduce, to give enhanced training to those who are chronically unemployed, to keep the dream of President Johnson's alive and to extinguish poverty as we know it in the United States of America.

    President Lyndon Johnson: ``. . . we have the power to strike away the barriers to full participation in our society. Having the power, we have the duty.'' It has been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, an initiative to endure the ideals and principles of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, with hopes to rid our nation of the plague and disparity of poverty.

    Social programs established by the War on Poverty provide invaluable aid to the elderly, the seriously disabled, members of working households, and children and spouses of deceased workers.

    National Successes Of The War On Poverty Major initiatives include: The Social Security Act 1965; Food Stamp Act of 1964; The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964; Job Corps; Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).

    Programs established during the era of President Johnson and those created since as result of his initiative have cut poverty nearly in half.

    In 2012, programs kept 45 million people, to include 9 million children, out of poverty according to the Census Bureau's Supplemental Policy Measure (SPM).

    If benefits were taken away, the poverty rate in America would be 29 percent under the SPM, but with them, the rate is 16 percent.

    Cumulatively, programs developed during the War on Poverty have prevented 1.2 billion ``person years'' of poverty.

    One of the demographics most affected by poverty was the elderly. In 1960, 35 percent of those ages 65 and older lived in poverty. With the implementation of Social Security, poverty among the elderly fell to 14.8 percent in 2012.

    Programs Encourage Work And Create Rewarding Opportunities For Low- Income Families The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit have not only reduced the poverty rate by 3.0 percentage points among all individuals and 6.7 percentage points among children, they reward work by offsetting payroll taxes and providing a supplement to labor market earnings.

    Research shows these tax credits increases work and earnings, and increases participation in the workforce, especially for single parents.

    DESPITE TREMENDOUS SUCCESS, WE HAVE TO KEEP MOVING Though substantial progress has been made in the War on Poverty, in 2012 nearly 50 million Americans, including 13.4 million children, remained below the poverty line.

    As result of these impoverished conditions, our American youth is subject to substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate food and nutrition, poor childcare, lack of access to health care, and dangerous neighborhoods.

    [[Page H55]] Poorer teenagers and young children are at a significant risk for poor academic achievement, dropping out of school, behavioral problems and delays in development.

    The American Opportunity Tax Credit makes college more affordable by being the first partially refundable tax credit for college, placing 372,000 low-income youth into summer and year-round employment in 2009 and 2010.

    POVERTY STATISTICS IN TEXAS AND THE 18TH CONGRESSIONAL District Eighteen percent of households in the state of Texas from 2009 through 2011 ranked second in the highest rate of food insecurity only the state of Mississippi exceed the ratio of households struggling with hunger.

    In the 18th Congressional District and estimated 151,741 families lived in poverty.

    INITIATIVES TAKEN To PREVENT POVERTY IN TEXAS AND THE 18th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT H.R. 3773, Unemployed Jobhunters Protection and Assistance Act of 2013 will reinstate vital benefits for 64,294 Texans and maintain benefits for 4,112 Texans per week slated to lose them.

    Unemployment insurance payments provide partial income replacement to unemployed workers who meet the requirements of State law.

    The State of Texas requires that the unemployed insurance payments only go to persons who are unemployed at no fault of their own.

    Unemployment payments beyond 26 weeks in the state of Texas are made as a direct result of Federal funds sent to the states to extend unemployment insurance payments.

    To continue to receive unemployment benefits in the State of Texas an unemployed person must be actively looking for work and provide evidence of their continued job search by reporting where they: submitted an application; had a job interview; or submitted a resume.

    According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Labor, Texas will lose 11,766 jobs if unemployment insurance payments are not reinstated.

    IN SUMMARY Throughout the 50-year history on the War on Poverty, great progress has been made largely due to bipartisan efforts to strengthen economic security and increase opportunity.

    At this crucial time in our history, it is important to maintain the vision established by President Johnson, to continue to combat poverty with our maximum effort. Cutting programs now will only undermine 50 years of hard-work to better the lives of millions of Americans.

    WAR ON POVERTY LEGISLATION AND PROGRAMS VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America)--Provided an opportunity for individuals, 18 and over, to join the War on Poverty. Volunteers would work with migrant laborers, on Indian reservations in urban and rural community action programs, in slum areas, hospitals, schools and in institutions for the mentally ill and retarded.

    Child Nutrition Act of 1966--This was an anti-hunger program started by President Johnson as part of his ``War on Poverty''. It created the special milk and school breakfast programs.

    National School Lunch Act of 1968--This act extended the school lunch program to include children who participated in ``service institutions''.

    Food Stamp Act of 1964--Made the Food Stamp Program permanent, strengthened the agricultural economy, and provided improved levels of nutrition among low-income households Community Action Programs of 1965 (CAP)--Under these programs the government was to provide both financial and technical assistance for locally designed and operated programs. Funds could be used for trips for slum children, remedial reading, job counseling, day care services etc.

    Migrant Assistance--The act authorized $35 million for loans and grants in 1965 for development of programs to aid migrant workers in housing, sanitation, education, and day care of children.

    Indian Reservation Programs--Health, educational and job training programs are typical components of Indian projects. As a component of the Community Action Program, projects for Indians were established on 31 reservations housing 60,000 for America's Indians during the year of 1965.

    Legal Services (1965)--This program provided (1) legal representation for the poor, (2) research into the legal problems of poverty, (3) education of the disadvantaged about legal rights and responsibilities, and (4) advocacy of improvements in the law affecting the poor.

    Small Business Loans--Title IV authorized the Director to make 15- year repayable loans to establa or strengthen small businesses and help them to employ the long-term unemployed.

    Rural Loans--The Office of Economic Opportunity Director was authorized to make 15-year loans of up to $2,500 to low-income rural families who could not get credit elsewhere.

    Economic Opportunity Act of 1964--Created the Jobs Corps and the Community Action Program Things You Should Know About Poverty in America The number of Americans living in poverty (less than $22,314 for a family of four) stands at 46 million people or 15.1 percent of population.

    The actual number of poor Americans living in poverty nearly increased 20 percent since the publication of The Other America in 1962.

    Economic growth didn't trickle down: Since 1980, GDP has doubled while poverty rates have remained essentially flat.

    Americans in deep poverty: 20.5 million Americans, or 6.7 percent of the population, have an income less than HALF of the poverty line (less than $11,157 for a family of four). This rate has doubled since 1976.

    Children Under Age 18 in poverty: 16.4 million, 22 percent of all children, including 39 percent of African-American children, 35 percent of Latino children, and 12 percent of white children.

    People in Single female-headed families (with children) have a poverty rate of 42 percent.

    Roughly one in three americans live at twice the poverty level or less (less than $44,628 for a family of four): That's more than 103 million people.

    Half the jobs in the country now pay less than $33,000 a year, and a quarter pay less than the poverty line of $22,000 for a family of four; but public policies including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security, kept 40 million people from falling into poverty in 2010.

    Poverty rate among the elderly was reduced by nearly half between 1967 and 1975, and reached a historic low of 8.9 percent in 2009, due in large part to Social Security.

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