WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Barbara Lee (CA-12) are today introducing a resolution which seeks to fully eradicate poverty throughout the United States. The Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty and Low Wages from the Bottom Up Resolution draws on the history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the civil rights struggles of the 20th century and addresses the converging injustices of systemic racism, poverty, public health inequity, militarism, white supremacist nationalist extremism, and aims to lift our society and economy from the bottom up.
“Poverty exists because we allow it to exist. In the wealthiest country in the world, 140 million people are poor because we have allowed it to be so,” said Jayapal. “We have the power to end poverty. We must implement bold proposals that center the poor — providing housing, health care, climate justice, and equitable public education. In everything we do, we must take the extraordinary wealth that is here in America and design policies that build from the bottom up, centering the real people whose lives are most at stake. That is why I am so proud to introduce this bold and necessary resolution that commits Congress to eradicating poverty. Today, we say to poor people across America: we see you and we will not leave you behind.”
“Our country stands at a tipping point: we can maintain the status quo, or we can choose to prioritize the needs and demands of the 140 million poor and vulnerable people, including children and families, who are one crisis away from destitution,” said Lee. “Poverty is a policy choice, and Congress has the power to choose to end it. I’m proud to stand with CPC Chair Rep. Jayapal and the Poor People’s Campaign in calling for a third reconstruction to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and ensure that in the wealthiest nation in the world, no one is left behind.”
“Poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in America, higher than homicides and gun violence, and it doesn’t have to be. It is policy decisions we must change in order to address this reality. Our movement has been saying we must simultaneously deal with the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of health care, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism that blames the poor, instead of the systems that cause poverty. This resolution asks who in congress is ready to join us. “ said Bishop William J. Barber II.
“This resolution affirms that our nation indeed has the resources to end poverty and low wages. What we need is the resolve to prioritize and center the needs and demands of poor and low-income people who live is just about every district in the country,” said Poor People’s Campaign Co-Chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
This resolution seeks to:
- Protect our democracy through expanding our voting rights, comprehensive and just immigration reform, guaranteeing Native and Indigenous rights; addressing the war economy; and guaranteeing adequate incomes, living wages, and the general welfare;
- Prioritize the needs and demands of the 140 million people who are poor or one health care crisis, job loss, storm, or emergency away from economic desperation, with policies that build up from the bottom, including around housing, healthcare, welfare, water, and equitable high-quality and diverse public education;
- Update the poverty measure to reflect what it takes to secure a decent standard of living today as a new baseline for anti-poverty and social welfare programs;
- Develop a federal jobs program that prioritizes poor and low-wealth communities (both urban and rural) to address racial and wealth inequality and build up public infrastructure through socially beneficial and climate-resilient jobs and development;
Raise resources to invest in these priorities by redirecting military spending and carceral spending, implementing fair taxation, and being willing to use deficit spending.