Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany Aims to Address Poverty

By Deborah Barfield Berry

Addressing generational poverty will be the major focus of a congressional subcommittee Rep. Charles Boustany will head next Congress.

“This is a huge issue in Louisiana,” said Boustany, R-Lafayette, who will be chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources. “It’s an issue that we need to look at to figure out how do we help create economic opportunity for all Americans.”

The Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over several public assistance programs, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and child support.

Boustany chaired the panel’s oversight subcommittee during the 113th Congress that just adjourned. He had hoped to head the trade subcommittee next year, but that post went to Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, who has more seniority. Boustany will retain his seat on that subcommittee.

He said he’s still working on the agenda for the Human Resources Subcommittee. Republicans generally have worked to cut money from entitlement programs — including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (formerly known as food stamps) — and tighten eligibility requirements. They likely will target TANF for the same treatment.

Boustany said reducing fraud and waste at TANF will be one goal.

“When you have those trapped in poverty, we need to look at the factors that have led to that and figure out how these programs can actually work better,” Boustany said.

He said his new role will put him in a position “to reach out to a number of communities (in Louisiana) where Republicans traditionally don’t work.”