(House of Representatives - October 13, 2011)

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[Page H6860]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Lee) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise as the founder and the co-
chair of the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus to continue to sound 
the alarm every week that there are millions of Americans in need all 
across America. They need our help and they need our support.
  Imagine for a moment if the entire population of 24 States in America 
were living in poverty. How would our Nation respond? We would respond 
as we do in any emergency, mobilizing to provide these people and 
families with adequate food, clothing and shelter. We would come 
together as a Nation and work to solve the crisis of poverty.
  We know that nearly 47 million people live in poverty in America now, 
today. That's essentially the entire population of 24 States of this 
country. The emergency is real, and the crisis is happening each and 
every day in every city and every town across America.
  But we are not mobilizing to solve this crisis of poverty. We are not 
directing Federal, State and local resources to help these men, women 
and children.
  Mr. Speaker, we are really failing those living in and facing 
poverty. If you are facing or living in poverty, something as basic as 
eating is not a guarantee, and millions go to bed hungry every night.
  This Sunday, October 16, is recognized as World Food Day. On Sunday, 
of course, we all should take a moment and be grateful that many are 
food secure, but we need to think about the nearly 15 percent of 
households and over 16 million children in America who are food 
  In fact, beyond Sunday, I hope that every Member of Congress joins me 
and other members of the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus later this 
month in the 2011 Food Stamp Challenge. Once again, as several of us 
did a couple of years ago, I challenge my colleagues to live for a week 
on what a person on food stamps lives on; that is, $4.50 a day, and 
that's $1.50 a meal. So I hope you join us in that effort, my 
  Experience is often the best teacher, and I bet that even a few days 
on living on what a person on food stamps survives on day in and day 
out might just bring us together to work to address the crisis of 

                              {time}  1000

  We know what we need to do, really. The pathway to addressing the 
crisis of poverty, to boosting our stagnating economy and reducing 
long-term deficits is the same one: create stable living-wage jobs.
  The most effective antipoverty program is an effective jobs program. 
When a family in poverty gains a living-wage job with good benefits, 
the family stops relying on government services, and that family begins 
to pay into the tax base instead of drawing from it. When jobs are 
created, it boosts demand, which helps to create even more jobs, which 
is what tax cuts for the wealthy, quite frankly, have always failed to 
accomplish. So we must come together and pass the President's American 
Jobs Act and support those initiatives that create stable living-wage 
  But while we work to create new jobs, we cannot forget that there are 
millions of Americans who are our most vulnerable. There are millions 
who face hunger, millions who have been looking for a job for more than 
99 weeks, and millions of Americans who are losing their homes and 
struggling to keep their version of the American Dream alive. We must 
protect the vital safety net programs that support these people in 
these very hard times from draconian and shortsighted budget cuts by 
the so-called supercommittee. We cannot balance the budget on the backs 
of our most vulnerable
  Poverty is real. It's rural and it's urban. People of all 
backgrounds, all ethnic backgrounds, are poor in our country. And so I 
hope we can finally, at least on this issue, end the extreme 
partisanship and really stand united in a bipartisan way and as a 
nation to create jobs and to address the crisis of poverty ravaging our