WAR ON POVERTY; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 33
(House of Representatives - February 27, 2014)

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                             WAR ON POVERTY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Crowley) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, it was 50 years ago that then-President 
Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty.
  I rise today to join my colleagues in recognizing the 50th 
anniversary of this declaration, this promise that America will be a 
better place for the generations that come after us. I join them in 
restating our commitment to fighting for policies that lift all 
Americans up.
  That American Dream that we so often speak of, it only happens if we 
embrace national initiatives that respect and encourage that dream--
guaranteeing a fair wage, promoting educational opportunity, and 
investing in an economy that works for the 21st century. That is what 
we should be spending our time on here in Congress, not gutting 
consumer and safety protections, or political distractions like we see 
on this week's agenda.
  I am not worried that the Republican Party has surrendered in the war 
on poverty; I am worried that they were never interested in it to begin 
with. A life in poverty shouldn't be a life sentence with no future, 
but for too many Americans, that is exactly what it is.
  Mr. Speaker, 46.5 million Americans live in poverty today; 16 million 
of those are children. In my hometown of New York City, that is one in 
three children. One in three children. These families, these children, 
find themselves trapped in poverty, and they need a government that is 
willing to help them out of that morass.
  Helping those in need has long been a part of our country's 
philosophy. That is why we have unemployment insurance for when workers 
lose a job through no fault of their own. That is why we have Social 
Security so that seniors no longer have to live out their final days in 
grinding poverty. That is why we have SNAP benefits so that no child 
goes hungry in the richest Nation on Earth.
  These programs and other lifelines are under threat, putting millions 
of Americans in danger of slipping further into poverty. We cannot let 
that happen. We cannot let the threads of our social safety net slip 
apart. We have to make sure that a hard day's work pays enough to make 
ends meet.
  Today, we have millions of Americans who are the working poor. That 
means they get up every morning, get dressed, go to work, and they put 
in 40-plus hours of work--or I would suggest even more--every week, but 
they are not making enough money to pay the bills or even meet basic 
needs like food and shelter. To me, that is not how America should be. 
If you work a full-time job, you should be able to feed and support 
your family, but the fact is, someone who works full time on minimum 
wage only makes about $14,000 a year--$14,000 a year. That is just not 
enough money, no matter how many ways you slice it to make ends meet, 
and it is definitely not enough to take care of children or families. 
It shouldn't be this way.
  For all of our differences, we should be united in the desire to give 
our children a better way of life than we had. That is what I know my 
grandparents were thinking when they immigrated here from Ireland, just 
like many others.
  They passed the Statue of Liberty, the famous signal of hope and 
opportunity. The words at the base say, ``Give me your tired, your 
poor.'' The Statue of Liberty doesn't say we should forget about poor 
children. No, it says give us your tired, give us your poor. Give us.
  Imagine what a wonderful message that is, that America is actually 
about helping the poor. It is because that is who we are as Americans. 
That is what the war on poverty demands of us, living up to the ideals 
we have set for our country.
  I urge every one of my colleagues to look inside themselves and 
recommit themselves to fighting the war on poverty, a fight that, as 
President Johnson said, we cannot afford to lose.