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Press Release: Sister Simone Campbell Testifies on Poverty before Rep. Paul Ryan’s Committee

FOR RELEASE: July 31, 2013                                                                              

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224, sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

Washington, DC: Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK Executive Director, testified today before the House Budget Committee about government programs that address poverty. The committee is chaired by Representative Paul Ryan, whose 2012 budget proposals were criticized by NETWORK and NETWORK’s “Nuns on the Bus” because they included heavy cuts to vital programs that help people at the economic margins.

She spoke about the importance of public/private partnerships in serving the needs of all people, including those in poverty. Noting that one of the key drivers of poverty today is low wages, she reminded the committee that “68% of the children living in poverty live in families with working parents… The most important programs that help these families survive are principally EITC, CTC and SNAP, Medicaid and CHIP. They are hugely successful programs making a big difference.”

Noting that she had met with many people whose lives are directly impacted by programs such as these, she told some of their stories. She spoke of a Milwaukee couple, both with jobs but whose work hours had been cut back, who needed food stamps and church-provided food so their children could be fed. Another story was of a young homeless Iowa mother who was moving to self-sufficiency because of “federal programs that helped fund the shelter, transition housing, SNAP, Medicaid and a Pell grant.”

She also spoke of an Ohio woman who died of cancer after she lost her job and health insurance, which meant she could not afford the health screenings and early treatment that would have saved her life. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion will make tragic stories like hers less prevalent.

Sister Campbell also noted that “[i]n the richest nation on earth, we are not suffering from scarcity of resources for these programs. We suffer from a scarcity of political will to do what is needed. Faith and patriotism demand that we avoid the easy sound bites that cast poor families as “other” and blame poverty on the very programs that help families survive. Faith and patriotism demand investing in the supports that bring both dignity and opportunity to people. I pray that this hearing strengthens our political will to act with moral integrity and form a more perfect union that promotes the general welfare by giving all people real opportunity.”

For video footage of her testimony and a copy of the longer written version of her remarks, click here.

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