Dems propose government-wide working group to reduce poverty

The legislation does not call for any increase in federal funding. But it would refocus the federal government's efforts to fight poverty into the working group, which would make recommendations that could include ways on how to use federal resources more efficiently to help poor Americans.

ADVERTISEMENT
"We need to ensure that our nation's vulnerable are protected, but we're not doing an adequate job of that," Lee said in a release posted on her website. "Our policies and programs addressing poverty have not kept pace with the growing needs of millions."

Under the legislation, the working group would have 180 days to recommend a national strategy to cut poverty in half within ten years. The working group would do this primarily by evaluating poverty alleviation programs across different government agencies such as the Departments of Education, Labor, Agriculture and Treasury.

In addition, the working group would rely heavily on research provided to it by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The bill indicates that NAS could see a funding increase to help support the working group, although no specific funding amount is included.

Hoyer said the various cuts resulting from the sequester is a reason why the bill is needed. "[T]his is a particularly important moment for Congress to explore ways to improve anti-poverty initiatives and develop a real strategy to protect the most vulnerable and reduce poverty in half by ten years," he said.

According to statistics gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau in September 2011, 15.1 percent of Americans, or 46.2 million people, were living in poverty in 2010, an increase of over 2.6 million people from the year prior. Within those recorded as living in poverty, 27.4 percent were African American and 26.6 percent were Hispanic.

The bill has 42 Democratic co-sponsors.