[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 4 (Wednesday, January 8, 2014)]
[Pages H23-H24]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           THE WAR ON POVERTY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, there are so many acts of success of 
our government that many of us know it is the greatest Nation in the 
world. Through the years, we have had great leaders who have recognized 
that government can work on behalf of the American people. Today, we 
commemorate the 50th year of the war on poverty.
  I thank my good friend, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who will be 
holding a commemoration in recognition not only of Lyndon Baines 
Johnson, the President who declared war on poverty, but also the many 
workers and many Presidents since who, in many aspects, helped to build 
on the Nation's safety net.
  Today, however, we find ourselves in a dilemma, not recognizing and 
accepting success where it is. Poverty has fallen significantly over 
the last half century. Since the mid-1960s the average incomes among 
the poorest fifth of Americans have risen significantly. Infant 
mortality has dropped sharply, and severe child malnutrition has 
largely disappeared, but it still exists.
  In parts of my 18th Congressional District in Texas, we have very 
high mortality rates. It means that our job is not over. Nearly 50 
million Americans, however, were poor in 2012, including 13 million 
children; 60 million people lived below half of the poverty line; and 
large racial disparities in the African American community were clear 
and documented. African Americans have a lower college degree graduate 
level than White Americans.
  So the safety net has to be something for all of us. I borrowed this 
from my good friend from California, just to show you a line of 
Americans possibly looking for work. We cannot point out and we cannot 
know at this point which one of these are near the edge of poverty or 
living in poverty simply because they cannot find work.
  So it is important to note that there are elements that many discard: 
the earned income tax credit; supplemental nutrition program; the huge 
job training and educational investment that President Johnson made on 
the war on poverty; Medicaid and Medicare, huge safety nets, not 
handouts but safety nets. Maybe the word ``welfare'' should be changed 
to something of a transitional living fund, for that is what it is for 
people to be able to live.
  There has been much maligning of the Affordable Care Act. Well, I am 
here to announce today that close to 9 million people have now been 
recipients and victors in getting health care; 3 million young people 
have been able to stay on their parents' insurance; and we have seen 
the slowest growth in health care in 50 years, safety net. As well, we 
have people who will no longer have lifetime caps or preexisting 
conditions preventing them from getting insurance or those who work as 
roofers or laborers who, because their work is difficult or dangerous, 
they cannot get insurance--safety net, part of the overall picture of 
the war on poverty.
  Now we find ourselves in the midst of a debate about a transitional 
outreach to individuals who are chronically unemployed. Some would 
argue we should not do it. We should not do it for individuals who have 
looked for work actively when there are three individuals per job. Some 
would say we need an offset. I consider it an emergency.
  But do you know, Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the people in my 
district and across America that are tired of partisan politics. So why 
not a compromise? Why not a 3-month emergency extension and then a 
deliberation on the offset? Well, that probably will not be heard.
  So what is the offset? Why are we not in the midst of a combined 
discussion about what would be the most effective for all of the 
Members to be able to vote on? It is documented that the unemployed are 
in everyone's district. There are 1.3 million that are chronically 
unemployed, who are on the brink of poverty, who are not able to secure 
a safety net .
  Let me just make mention of the earned income tax credit that has 
been a vital lifeline for many around the Nation. Yet, that is looked 
upon as a potential cut. It is too expensive.
  These are lifeline safety nets that President Johnson started. Quite 
frankly, of all the wealthy nations, we have the lowest safety net and 

[[Page H24]]

highest poverty because we are not willing to accept the fact that 
sometimes an American needs help--even a veteran, even a soldier.
  Today, I honor the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, Mr. 
Speaker, and I ask us not to give up the fight because the American 
people are looking to us to win the war.