MAKING CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2006
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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I joined my colleague, the Senator from Iowa, in supporting the Community Services Block Grant, CSBG. The continuing resolution before the Senate contains the House-passed funding level for CSBG, $320 million. This is a 50 percent cut from both the fiscal year 2005 level of funding and the Senate Appropriations Committee supported level.
CSBG funds can be used in a variety of ways to help low-income families make ends meet. I have heard from several agencies in Wisconsin who rely on this funding to provide a range of services, from job training to housing, to low-income families and individuals in their communities. These agencies have told me, in no uncertain terms, that a cut of this magnitude to CSBG would require them to cut actual programming aimed at reducing poverty for families and the elderly. This means a cut to programs such as the Skills Enhancement Project in Outagamie County, which provides skills training to low-income workers so that they may compete for higher paying jobs. Similarly, the Home Buyers Assistance Program, which aims to increase homeownership among low-income families, would have to narrow the number of families served if the CR was passed without additional funding for CSBG.
CSBG funding plays a similarly important role throughout my State. The West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency, West CAP, which provides a range of supports for low-income families and individuals, relies on this funding to provide ``hardship relief'' programs, affordable housing, food pantry services and job training. West CAP has made it clear that this cut to CSBG couldn't come at a worse time, a time when they are seeing increases in the use of food pantries, steep increases in the pricing of basic needs, and dramatic increases in the costs of gasoline and home heating fuels, which particularly impact on low-income individuals.
That is why I am a cosponsor of the Harkin amendment to restore funding to CSBG. At a time when Katrina and Rita have focused our Nation's attention on the needs of low-income families, it is unconscionable that Congress would turn its back, by cutting CSBG. With this amendment we had a chance to set it right.