Advocates Blast Policies that Harm Children

Contact: Michele Kayal, First Focus on Children, MicheleK@firstfocus.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 3 — A broad coalition of nonprofit and faith-based groups from across the nation that aid and represent children hailed oversight hearings to be held in the House of Representatives this week regarding Trump Administration regulatory efforts they say would harm children.

Over the past several decades, Congress has successfully strengthened programs that have helped improve the health and well-being of our nation’s children. The child poverty rate has decreased. Food insecurity has also steadily declined. But recent regulatory changes proposed by the Trump Administration would erode that progress and create real harm to the health and well-being of low-income children.

Collectively titled “A Threat to America’s Children,” the four hearings scheduled by the House Government Oversight Committee for Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 will address Trump Administration proposals that side-step the will and intent of Congress by rolling back bipartisan legislation. These proposals would:

  • Recalculate the federal poverty line, which would grossly underestimate our child poverty rate and deny millions of children access to health care, nutrition assistance and other benefits.
  • Gut fair housing standards, abandoning decades’ long policy to combat housing discrimination and threatening housing opportunities for low-income families and children.
  • Deny access to vital food assistance to nearly 3.1 million people and put free school meals in jeopardy for nearly 1 million children.
  • Undermine regulations that limit industrial air pollution, including the release of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that interferes with brain development. 

As advocates for effective, common-sense policies across the spectrum of housing, homelessness, civil rights, poverty and child well-being, we have come together to support the House Government Oversight Committee’s review of these harmful policies and to ensure policymakers understand their individual and combined impact.

All hearings will take place in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building. Please find at this link a full schedule of hearings as well as the list of experts and researchers who will testify regarding the need to provide basic protections for low-income children, families and communities.

Please find below statements and corresponding contacts from each of these organizations.

NOTE: Advocates will be available to media immediately after each of the hearings. Contact: Michele Kayal, First Focus Campaign for Children, MicheleK@firstfocus.org.

Advocates issued the following statements:

“Forty three percent of U.S. households can’t afford a monthly budget that includes basic necessities like housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone. Yet rather than helping people out of poverty with programs that create opportunity, the Trump Administration does the opposite: it denies American families access to the resources they need to make their lives better while rewarding the wealthy and powerful with tax cuts. These school meal cuts are just the latest example. The cruelty of these proposed regulations doesn’t just harm America’s children now, it hurts future generations of children and families, too. Vulnerability doesn’t operate in a vacuum, so the cascading impact of these cuts to food programs, affordable housing, standards for toxins in our communities and changes to how we measure poverty will no doubt increase the stress and instability that many working families already feel.”

— Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, Contact: okorin@aft.org

“In his inaugural address President Trump promised to lift up the “forgotten men and women” who have been left behind, but since then he’s been consistently attacking low-income people. The President has taken food off people’s tables through repeated SNAP cuts. He’s taken roofs off people’s heads by encouraging housing discrimination. And denied low-income people’s very real struggles by recalculating the federal poverty line. I’m glad to see the House Oversight Committee is holding these hearings to shine a spotlight on the catastrophic impact that the administration’s actions is having on low-income families and communities.”

— Alexandra Cawthorne Gaines, Vice President, Poverty to Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress, Contact: jcusick@americanprogress.org

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, children are the most likely to live in poverty. That’s why the Trump Administration’s unrelenting attacks on the health, nutrition, and economic security of children and their families is so distressing. The research has never been clearer that children’s access to health insurance, nutrition supports, and a stable income has lifelong impacts – and cutting those supports risks lasting damage. By pushing forward damaging regulations and policies, the administration is imperiling the wellbeing of children from families with low income, immigrant families, and communities of color. We are committed to standing with our partners to fight for children—and our nation.”

— Olivia Golden, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Contact:tsalyers@clasp.org

“The Trump EPA knows that the public won’t stand for its attack on mercury air pollution protections on behalf of dirty coal polluters, and that’s why it’s using dishonest ‘mercury math’ to cover its tracks. The public expects the EPA to protect kids’ brains and lungs from mercury and other air toxics, and the Trump EPA can’t avoid this responsibility simply by pretending that kids’ health doesn’t count.”

— James Goodwin, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Progressive Reform, Contact:jgoodwin@progressivereform.org

“America’s children are under attack by this administration. Nearly 12 million children in America are poor, many of whom do not have enough nutritious food to eat or a safe, stable home to sleep in at night. This is especially true for children of color. Every child in America needs their basic needs met in order to thrive. We must stand up for our nation’s children against these callous attacks on their safety and well-being.”

—  Kathleen King, Interim Policy Director, Children’s Defense Fund, Contact: egardner@childrensdefense.org

“The House Committee on Oversight is right to shine a light on this sampling of the Trump Administration’s multiple threats to child well-being. Taken together, they will take food, stable housing, medical coverage and child care away from children in low-income families while allowing pollution to threaten their health. Congress must reject these reckless policies.”

— Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, Contact:dweinstein@chn.org

“On issue after issue, Trump’s policies unilaterally harm children. From shortchanging families on the child tax credit to yanking health care from 425,000 kids, this president’s policies are a disaster for our youngest Americans.”

—  Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus Campaign for Children, Contact:MicheleK@FirstFocus.org

“The Trump Administration’s plan to take away flexibility from states to allow people to save funds while working their way out of poverty and still receive SNAP is horrid in five ways. It would take SNAP away from millions, but also take school meals away from one million low-income children. It is illegal since it bypasses the will of Congress. It will make working Americans hungrier. It will make it harder for families to work their way out of poverty. And it is hypocritical since Republicans are denying flexibility to states. We will continue to work with like-minded organizations to fight this fiercely.”

— Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, Contact: naber@hungerfreeamerica.org

“This Administration continues to deny the very real needs of low-income children and families who struggle with hunger. As a Jewish organization, grounding our work in Jewish values and ideals is not a mere slogan; it is the vital prism through which we understand what it means to be a nation that looks after its most vulnerable, particularly its children. We applaud Chairwoman Maloney and the House Oversight Committee for holding these hearings, which underscore the callous and cruel scheming by the Trump Administration to weaken vital safety net programs, including making it more difficult for nearly one million children to access food at school. As a nation, we are better than this. It is our responsibility to ensure that we protect and support our children so that they can grow and thrive.”

— Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Contact:jwatthey@mazon.org

“As a country, our children should be our priority so it is alarming that the Trump administration continues advancing policies that endanger the health and safety of our kids. USDA’s proposed changes to broad-based categorical eligibility and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are short-sighted and harmful. They will make it harder for struggling families to access the food assistance and nutritious school lunches they need. America’s moms will fight any policy that causes children to go hungry, puts the economic security of families at risk, or in other ways jeopardizes access to safe housing and other crucial supports. We are thankful that the House Oversight Committee is taking the time to shine a light on these important issues and investigate the multitude of ways the Trump administration’s federal rule changes are harming our children”

— Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO, MomsRising, Contact:lisa@prsolutionsdc.com

“Access to fair housing determines where we live, which in turn determines the quality of education and health services our children have access to, among other resources. That’s why HUD’s proposed AFFH rule is so troubling. By seeking to dismantle the 2015 requirements put in place specifically to address discrimination and segregation, HUD’s plan could negatively impact the lives of millions of children.”

— Lisa Rice, President and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance, Contact:iwoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org

“Secretary Carson’s attempt to gut the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which helps communities recognize and address barriers to fair housing, is unconscionable. The AFFH rule was developed after years of exhaustive outreach and input – by rolling back its provisions, Secretary Carson is abandoning essential efforts to combat harmful patterns of segregation and discrimination. His “fair housing” proposal absurdly ignores race, segregation, and housing discrimination and incorrectly equates increased housing supply with fair housing choice. His proposal is not a fair housing rule at all – it’s a deregulation rule that attacks protections for low income renters, workers, and the environment.” 

— Diane Yentel, President & CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Contact:lmarlow@nlihc.org

“HUD’s proposed fair housing rule releases jurisdictions from having to examine whether they are perpetuating discrimination and segregation. Pretending our country’s legacy of housing discrimination does not exist is not a valid federal housing policy. Putting our heads in the sand will not create inclusive communities, nor will it address the enduring impacts of practices such as redlining and government-sanctioned segregation.”

— Shamus Roller, Executive Director, National Housing Law Project, Contact: dswesnik@nhlp.org

“In the wake of a budget-busting tax cut for millionaires and corporations, this administration is continuing its relentless attacks on women and children. For generations, Americans have recognized the need of our government to respond to the widespread causes of poverty such as segregation and discrimination and to mitigate its worst effects by helping families meet their basic needs. The administration’s unilateral rollback of basic protections for women, children and families are a betrayal of that moral duty and will foster more discrimination, more hunger, and more public health challenges for our communities. It is vital for Congress to block these attacks, redress these harmful policies and do everything in its power to put the American people, and their economic security, over politics.”

— Melissa Boteach, Vice President of Income Security and Child Care, National Women’s Law Center, Contact: gbranstetter@nwlc.org

“Pope Francis said that the measure of society can be found in the way it treats those most in need. Children living in poverty are the most vulnerable and the least equipped to advocate for their own well being. The OMB’s proposal to change the poverty measure ignores the needs of these children, especially in rural communities. Chained-CPI will undercount poverty, remove life-saving benefits, and take food off the tables of our neighbors. This is not the faithful way forward.”

— Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Contact: lmorrow@networklobby.org

“Secretary Carson’s attempt to gut the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which helps communities recognize and address barriers to fair housing, is unconscionable. The AFFH rule was developed after years of exhaustive outreach and input – by rolling back its provisions, Secretary Carson is abandoning essential efforts to combat harmful patterns of segregation and discrimination. His “fair housing” proposal absurdly ignores race, segregation, and housing discrimination and incorrectly equates increased housing supply with fair housing choice. His proposal is not a fair housing rule at all – it’s a deregulation rule that attacks protections for low income renters, workers, and the environment.” 

— Megan Haberle, Deputy Director, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Contact:lmarlow@nlihc.org

“President Donald Trump’s war on regulation is a war on children’s health, safety and economic security. The administration’s extreme and radical rollback of public protections has put boosting corporate profits above the well-being of our children at every turn. Making matters worse, the Trump administration has failed to put forward any significant new regulatory protections for children over the last three years. The House Oversight Committee should be applauded for shining a spotlight on the tragic costs to children of Trump’s corporate driven deregulatory agenda.”

— Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen, Contact: drosen@citizen.org

“I’m glad to see Congress paying attention to these harmful proposals. Instead of undermining progress, policymakers should listen to the voices of the real experts on poverty – the people who’ve experienced it firsthand – to help strengthen anti-poverty programs and craft effective, bipartisan solutions to support more people to get ahead.”

– Maxine Thomas, RESULTS Board Member and Expert on Poverty, Contact:csmith@results.org

“Millions of families are working incredibly hard to move out of poverty and give their children a brighter future. They often hold down multiple jobs and cut expenses to the bone, yet still struggle to stretch their paychecks to make ends meet, only one car repair or medical expense away from financial crisis. For these families, groceries often take a back burner to rent, childcare or transportation. Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility is a smart and effective policy that enables working poor parents to ensure their children get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong. Eliminating this policy would hit working poor families with a devastating double whammy of lost meals at home and, for their children, at school.”

– Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President, Share Our Strength, Contact: mjorss@strength.org

“We should protect pregnant women and young children from the toxic mercury pollution that spews out of dirty coal plants. This shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but after Donald Trump put two former coal lobbyists in charge of the EPA, with client lists that stretch from Atlanta to California, it’s become one. They are trying to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which protects the health of thousands of children from dangerous heavy metal pollution. Weakening these standards is unconscionable and immoral, and we must do everything we can to stop them.” 

— Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, Contact: Brian.Willis@sierraclub.org

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