By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — US senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) announced today that he’s convening a Congressional hearing into budget problems that are threatening the nation’s largest job training program for disadvantaged youth.

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Job Corps has been shown to improve earnings for thousands of young people who have enrolled since it was created in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty.

There are usually 355 students at Philadelphia’s Job Corps center, training for jobs as EMTs and health care aides.  But since the Labor Department imposed a moratorium on new enrollment in January — the third one in six months — that number is down to 263.   And by the time the freeze ends in June, there will be fewer than 200 in the program.

Officials say they’re trying to make up for cost overruns two years ago.

Casey finds that explanation unsatisfactory, so he says he’ll call them before a Senate subcommittee next Tuesday to get details.

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“And I really don’t care whether or not I make people in Washington uncomfortable,” he said today. “They should be very uncomfortable when they create a problem.”

Casey says the freeze means hundreds of Philadelphia youth will be denied training opportunities, and 25 local Job Corps workers will be laid off.

Labor officials say the freeze is necessary to operate within its budget.


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