Tuesday, March 24, 2009

National Service Bills Move Through Congress

Two national service bills moved through the House and Senate last week, S. 277 the Serve America Act, and HR 1388, the Generations Invigoration Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE Act). On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee passed the Serve America Act by a bipartisan majority. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for full consideration. Building upon the National and Community Service Act of 1990, the Serve America Act adds new service opportunities for Americans from elementary school children to retirees. The bill provides $5 billion over five years with the goal of funding 250,000 volunteers engaged in targeted service in areas of national need, such as: energy conservation, health care and education. Upon committee passage, Sen. Ted Kennedy, co-author of the legislation, said, "This legislation represents the best of America's ideals - offering a helping hand to our neighbors and to our country. Today's action brings us closer to our goal of giving Americans of all ages greater opportunities to serve their communities and their nation."

Following Senate action, the House of Representatives passed the Generations Invigoration Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE Act) by a vote of 321-105. The bill would reauthorize and reform the national service laws to create Innovative Service-Learning Programs and Research to fund community service-learning opportunities for elementary, secondary, college and graduate students. The GIVE Act will now move to the Senate for consideration. The first lady gave her support for these national service goals earlier this week saying, "Congress is taking steps to strengthen and expand national service programs for Americans of all ages and all walks of life."

Learn more about the SERVE America Act. Learn more about the GIVE Act.


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