Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Sewell and Sanders Call for Poverty Action Plan

Jun 13, 2018
Press Release
Lawmakers respond to scathing UN Report, Urging Action on Poverty

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and 18 of their colleagues sent a letter Tuesday to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley urging the Trump Administration to uphold our international human rights treaty obligations and present Congress with a plan to take action to reduce levels of poverty across the country. The letter follows on the heels of a scathing final report from the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, after his official visit to the United States.

The UN report, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council of the U.N. General Assembly later this month, highlights the 40 million Americans currently living in poverty, including millions living in what the report describes as “Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”

“We believe the massive levels of deprivation outlined in the report – as well as the immense suffering this deprivation causes – are an affront to any notion of the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Given the breadth of poverty outlined in the report, these rights are simply illusory for millions in this country,” the members wrote.

More than 13 million American children live in poverty, more than 1 in 5 homeless individuals are children and the United States has the highest youth poverty rate and infant mortality rate among comparable nations. Meanwhile, the United States is the only country in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that protects the economic, health, and social rights of children.

“These findings sound a call to action we must heed. We urge your Administration to immediately submit the Convention on the Rights of the Child treaty to the Senate requesting its ratification,” the members wrote.

Sanders, Sewell and their colleagues also agreed with the report’s conclusion that the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.” And they called on the Administration to address the “country’s discriminatory treatment of communities of color, indigenous populations, women, children, people with disabilities, and citizens living in U.S. territories” – discriminatory treatment that is inconsistent with American treaty obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). In the House, co-signers included Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Danny Davis (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), and James P. McGovern (D-MA).

To read the letter, click here.


Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) is serving her fourth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional district. She sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee of the Democratic Caucus. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, and Vice Chair of Outreach for the New Democrat Coalition.