Community services

Thompson proposes bipartisan bill to reauthorize community services block grant program

On May 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 246 to 169 to pass a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) to update the block grant program for Community Services (CSBG).

“CSBG has not been reauthorized in more than two decades, and today’s bipartisan vote renewed our commitment to reducing poverty and strengthening communities across the country,” Rep. Thompson said.

The Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act of 2022, HR 5129, introduced in August 2021 by the original lead co-sponsor, Rep. Thompson and the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) , was presented to the US Senate, which on May 16 referred the measure for consideration by the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

If enacted, HR 5129 would reauthorize the CSBG Act for 10 years at an increased annual level of $1 billion for the first five years and amend the program, which supports various anti-poverty activities, primarily through formula-based allocations to states, Indian tribes and territories, according to the congressional bill summary.

“The Community Services Block Grant is the only federal program with the explicit and ambitious goal of reducing poverty from all causes,” Rep. Thompson said. “Virtually every county in the United States has a community action agency, which helps low-income individuals and families move from poverty to independence.”

In particular, HR 5129 would make changes to the administration and direction of the CSBG program; performance measurement; and state and territory allowances, and would also expand eligibility for program-funded services and activities to 200% of the federal poverty level. Under current law, eligibility is generally set at the federal poverty level, the summary says.

“I am pleased the House passed this overdue CSBG update with strong bipartisan support,” Rep. Bonamici said. “Now the Senate must pass this legislation to modernize and strengthen one of our country’s most important anti-poverty programs so that community action agencies can continue to meet the unique needs of our communities.”

Several organizations have endorsed the bill, including the National Community Action Foundation, Central Pennsylvania Community Action Inc., Warren Forrest Counties Economic Development Opportunity Council, Venango County Economic Development Authority, Indiana County Community Action Program Inc., Northern Tier Community Action Corp., and Community Action Inc.