House GOP leaders launch anti-poverty platform

House GOP leaders launch anti-poverty platform
© Haiyun Jiang

A panel of House Republican leaders rolled out a set of goals and broad policy reforms Wednesday geared toward fighting poverty.

The platform launch is the first step in House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP rep: Virginia defeat 'a referendum' on Trump administration After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Pence: Praying 'takes nothing away' from trying to figure out causes behind mass shooting MORE’s push to temper election-year anger with a “bold, pro-growth agenda” of conservative solutions.

Called the Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility, the panel is led by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Geo.), Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care: Initial Senate tax bill doesn't repeal ObamaCare mandate | 600K sign up for ObamaCare in first four days | Feds crack down on opioid trafficking Overnight Finance: Senate GOP unveils different approach on tax reform | House tax bill heads to floor | House leaders eye vote next week | AT&T denies pressure for CNN sale GOP tax bill clears hurdle, heads to House floor MORE

Their goal is to “strengthen America’s social safety net to better help those in need; improve education and training so more can succeed in today’s economy; help welfare recipients enter, reenter, and remain in the workforce; and empower everyone to live their own American Dream,” according to the announcement.

The platform suggests tying welfare benefits to work, streamlining and synchronizing federal, state and local services, bolstering retirement savings and access to financial services and reforming entitlement programs. 

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dubbed the panel the "Erode the American Dream Team" and threw cold water on its platform.

"Somehow, the American people are supposed to believe this group will take the lead on tackling poverty," said the spokesman. "These are just the choices you’d expect from Speaker Ryan – the primary author of the Republican roadmap to empowering special interests on the backs of poor and working families."

Even so, fighting poverty--a long-time focus for Ryan--is a potential area of bipartisan action. 

President Obama noted Ryan’s interest in his State of the Union address last January, floating “a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers who don't have children.”

Ryan has also huddled with black lawmakers about a plan to redirect federal anti-poverty funds into areas that struggle the most, a plan in which House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he’s “very interested.”

--Updated at 7:15 p.m.