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Eleven House Committee Chairs Blast Trump Administration’s Plan to Redefine Poverty That Threatens Assistance for Low-Income Families & Communities

Jun 21, 2019
“We oppose unilateral action that would artificially understate the extent of poverty and threaten assistance for our nation’s struggling children and families.”

WASHINGTON – Today, 11 House Committee chairs sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney in opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to redefine the poverty threshold—a move that would drastically shrink eligibility for public programs such as Medicaid, housing assistance, and free school meals. 

The Members note that, contrary to congressional intent and four decades of consistent policy, the administration is considering switching to a slower-growing inflation measure to adjust the poverty threshold that would grossly understate the number of families struggling to make ends meet. The proposal comes less than two years after the Trump administration passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the wealthy.

“Relying on a slower-growing inflation index to adjust the poverty threshold would overturn a long-standing and well-understood approach to measuring poverty in the United States,” the Members wrote. “Over time, a slower-growing measure of inflation would cause millions of low-income families to lose access to crucial services that help them meet basic needs, such as keeping a roof over their children’s heads or putting food on the table.”

“We oppose unilateral action that would artificially understate the extent of poverty and threaten assistance for our nation’s struggling children and families,” the Members continued.

The Members refer to independent analysis showing that over ten years, switching to the chained Consumer Price Index would cause hundreds of thousands of low-income people—including seniors, people with disabilities, children, and pregnant women—to lose eligibility for federal health care programs.

The letter was signed by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (MA-01), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (NY-17), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (WA-09), Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Budget Committee Chairman John A. Yarmuth (KY-03), and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano.

The full text of the letter is here.

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