Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From AHN Reporter: House Passes Volunteerism Bill

House Passes Volunteerism Bill

March 21, 2009 2:22 p.m. EST

David Goodhue - AHN Reporter

Miami, FL (AHN) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this week aimed at significantly increasing the amount of Americans who volunteer.

The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education, or GIVE, Act passed the House on March 19 by a vote of 321-105. The Senate is expected to take up its version of the bill sometime next week. If it passed the Senate, AmeriCorps, created during the Clinton administration would be reborn.

The GIVE Act seeks to raise the number of federally-supported volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000 within five years, according to the Nonprofit Times. It would create new "corps" in areas like clean energy, veterans support, healthcare and education.

The legislation also designates Sept. 11, 2001 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of implementing the GIVE Act to be $481 billion next year and around $6 billion between 2010 and 2014.

Critics of the bill, including several Republican members of Congress, say it could result in required service, since it creates a "Congressional Commission on Civic Service." The commission is tasked with, among other things, exploring whether a mandatory service requirement could be created and how such a program "could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation," the bill's language reads, Fox News reported.

South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson said he voted against the bill because he didn't see the justification of spending so much money on new and existing programs while the country fights to get out of a deep recession, he told Fox News.

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