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Congresswoman Clarke Recognizes the Fiftieth Anniversary of the War on Poverty

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke today issued the following statement to recognize the Fiftieth Anniversary of the War on Poverty, which allowed hundreds of millions of Americans access to health care, early childhood education and higher education, and food stamps.

The programs established in the War on Poverty include Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants, VISTA, Job Corps, and nutrition assistance. These programs substantially reduce poverty in the United States – particularly among senior citizens – though the poverty rate has increased in recent decades as the federal government has reduced support for these programs.

“The programs initiated under the War on Poverty are today understood as a critical foundation of our civil society,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “Who could imagine our society with Medicare and Medicaid, federal student loans and grants, or Head Start? These programs have allowed Americans to protect their health and quality of life, and to achieve their potential as full participants in our democracy.

“But our work has not yet been completed. In December, Congress returned home to share the holiday season with our families, to gather at the dinner table and to exchange gifts. Many of the people we represent were not as fortunate, because Congress returned home without extending unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans. If unemployment benefits are not extended, about five million Americans are expected to lose benefits in the next twelve months, of whom three hundred and eighty three thousand are New York residents. 

“In addition, the expiration of unemployment benefits will probably result in an increase in demand for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, at a time when Republicans are considering forty billion dollar reduction nutrition assistance. 

“We have the ability to correct this mistake, by extending unemployment benefits and preventing further reductions in SNAP. Congress can affirm the common priorities that we share as a nation and work together to make them a reality.  We – as a Congress – must continue to work together to end poverty in America.”

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.