WASHINGTON—After months of deliberation over how to create House Republican consensus on an election-year policy agenda, Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday unveiled a proposal for fighting poverty that identifies a long list of policy ills but stops short of prescribing specific legislative fixes.

The anti-poverty plan, formally announced at a nonprofit social services and housing provider in the hardscrabble Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, includes a list of problems with the current social welfare system and recommendations for how to fix them – largely by shifting money and programs from federal control to groups like Anacostia’s House of Help City of Hope.

“These are the people who are fighting poverty on the front lines and they are winning,” Ryan said, standing next to the group’s founder, Shirley Holloway, and seven fellow House Republicans.

“If there is anyone we should listen to, it is them – the people here in our communities who are actually successful in fighting and winning and beating back poverty,” he continued. “What they’re doing is, they’re not isolating the poor, they are elevating the poor. If we want people to contribute to our society, then we need to reward those contributions.”

The 35-page document is the first piece of a larger agenda effort Ryan launched earlier this year, aimed at allowing rank-and-file members to craft a substantive blueprint during a presidential campaign where much of the focus has been on party infighting and concerns about bombastic presidential front-runner, Donald Trump.

Tuesday’s diversion was brief. Reporters immediately questioned Ryan on Trump’s recent attacks on the federal judge handling a civil case against him.


The policy principles laid out in the anti-poverty plan are plenty familiar to denizens of conservative think tanks. The proposals seek to expand work requirements for those receiving federal benefits, to give states and local jurisdictions a greater role in administering those benefits, to better measure the results of federal programs for the poor, and to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse.

The lack of specific policy prescriptions could open Ryan to criticism from the left, but it reduces the risk that any of the proposals could be rejected by Trump.

Trump said Sunday that he shares Ryan’s goal of reducing poverty and he plans to work with the speaker to reach a compromise on policy ideas.

“He wants to take people out of poverty,” Trump said in an interview with CBS News. “So do I. And we’re going to come up with a plan.”

Trump said that people are poor because they don’t have jobs and promised to bring back jobs lost overseas.

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