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CBC Chastises Ryan Remarks on Poverty (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:39 p.m. | The Congressional Black Caucus has invited Rep. Paul D. Ryan to a CBC meeting to discuss their perspectives on poverty after the House Budget chairman made some self-described “inarticulate” remarks on the subject.  

Ryan recently said there was a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” On Thursday, the Wisconsin Republican clarified those remarks .  

But CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, thinks this might be a teachable moment — or at least an opportunity to grab some more headlines.  

On Friday, she wrote that CBC members were “deeply troubled” by Ryan’s remarks, characterizing them as “highly offensive.”  

Fudge  and fellow CBC member Gwen Moore, D-Wis., also indicated that Ryan’s apology, in which he said the government’s response to poverty had “inadvertently created a poverty trap,” continued to offend CBC members.  

Update: After the letter was released, Ryan was spotted on the House floor sitting between Moore and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., another Black Caucus member who had criticized Ryan’s remarks.  

From the letter:

The problem many people in poverty face is not isolation, but rather the lack of resources to help ensure all people have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to society, such as adequate transportation, infrastructure, job training programs and other resources to search for jobs and become gainfully employed. A serious policy conversation on poverty should not begin with assumptions or stereotypes. Poverty in our nation is a critical problem that must be approached with diligence and the utmost respect for those who are trapped by poverty’s grasp.

Fudge invited Ryan to review the CBC budget with members and to attend one of the group’s weekly meetings “to discuss our perspectives on poverty in search of finding constructive common ground.”  

The letter was signed by Fudge and Moore.  

Ryan’s office has not responded publicly to the letter.  

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

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