Dems on Financial Services push for poverty hearings

House Democrats on the Financial Services Committee are pushing for congressional hearings on tackling poverty and income inequality.

In a letter sent to Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on Monday, all 27 Democrats on the finance panel pushed for committee hearings on how Congress can “improve wages, housing adequacy and affordability and increased access to the financial mainstream.”

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That push comes as part of a broader Democratic effort to shine a brighter light on poverty issues and growing economic inequality in the United States. Democrats throughout Congress have vowed to make the issue a priority in 2014, ahead of the midterm elections and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty.

The call for hearings also comes as lawmakers continue to search for a compromise to extend emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. That program, in place since 2008, expired at the end of last year.

At Financial Services, Democrats led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) argued their panel is well-positioned to tackle the issue with a series of hearings, having jurisdiction over housing, banking and insurance matters.

“Hearings could examine strategies that improve accountability in the financial system, expand access to financial services in urban, rural, tribal and suburban communities, invest in locally-based community development activities, community development corporations, community development financial institutions, and enable remittances,” they wrote. 

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