The Out of Poverty Caucus, also known as the COPC, was founded in January 2007 for the purpose of creating solutions to help end poverty in America. Led by congresswoman Barbara Lee, COPC brings together lawmakers and congressmen to focus their energy and resources into developing new policies to help find solutions to factors that contribute to poverty.
The COPC will develop legislation and gather support keeping the following principles in mind: Provide affordable healthcare, provide affordable housing, reduce unemployment and reduce hunger among many others.
The COPC also works to connect people to resources and anti-poverty associations. Government subsidized programs that provide affordable food like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, provide necessary services to people.
A census done in 2011 shows that approximately one in six Americans were living below the poverty line. That number settled around 46.2 million Americans. Safety net programs help keep many Americans from falling below the poverty line which is why it is important that the federal government continues to use federal funds to support these programs.
Medicaid is also an important program that the COPC seeks to continue funding for because it provides for Americans who cannot afford privatized health care. When private health care is so expensive, other alternatives need to be accessible to citizens.
“Social service programs serve as a life line for our nation’s low income and poor communities,” Lee said. “Social services need to be provided by the government to provide a safety net for people who have lost their jobs or have dealt with unfortunate circumstances.”
Though there have been differing opinions about what factors contribute to whether a person is considered to be living in poverty, there has been strong bipartisan support on the issue.
Coalitions like the Out of Poverty Caucus are important because they seek to represent the needs of impoverished Americans in Congress. In 2014 when Congress had multiple hearings on whether or not to drop bombs on Syria, SNAP was in the midst of being cut by five percent.
Representative Jim McGovern, (D-Mass), a proponent of putting the impoverished first, addressed the situation.
“I hope through all this Syria stuff, that we’re able to shed a bit of light on this, because I think most Americans, if they realize what’s going on, would be outraged,” McGovern said. “The fact is that foreign affairs, and especially military action abroad, will be more prominent in the media and in Congress.”
The COPC deals with numerous issues including childhood poverty, education, transportation, energy and education among many others. The organization uses congressmen, congresswomen, lawmakers and lawyers to put together legislation that focuses on bettering people’s lives.
– Maxine Gordon