Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) is asking UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to visit Alabama in light of a recent UN report on poverty in America.
“The reality is that poverty is in America,” Sewell said. “And it has hit hardest in rural parts of Alabama.”
The study was conducted by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty.
“The American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion,” Alston wrote in the report. “The equality of opportunity, which is so prized in theory, is in practice a myth, especially for minorities and women, but also for many middle-class white workers.”
“Every day, millions of American families struggle to put food on the table for their families or afford basic necessities like a working wastewater system or primary health and dental care,” Sewell said in a statement.
Haley called the report “patently ridiculous” and “politically motivated.” She argues that the U.S. has made great strides in addressing poverty and that the UN should instead focus on countries suffering from extreme poverty like Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congressman Bradley Byrne says the United Nations should focus its attention elsewhere.
“It’s the responsibility of the United States of America, but more importantly Alabama and local communities to help poor people,” Byrne said.
But Sewell argues the UN report is merely pointing out fact and says poverty in her district is extreme and requires a more robust response from the federal government. She hopes a visit from Haley would help highlight the need for more federal programs, like skills training.
Byrne agrees conditions in his state need to improve, but says federal programs are the problem, not the solution.
The report found that 40 million Americans live in poverty, 18.5 million live in extreme poverty, and an additional 5 million in conditions of absolute poverty.