President Urges Congress to Pass National-Service Legislation
Feb. 24, 2009, The Chronicle of Philanthropy — In a speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama called on lawmakers to pass a bill that would greatly increase participation in national-service programs.
Mr. Obama urged members of the House and Senate to pass the Serve America Act, which has been introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, and Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.
The legislation would more than triple participation in year-long national-service programs like AmeriCorps to 250,000 by 2013.
It would also create several new service programs and provide money to help nonprofit groups recruit volunteers and spread innovative projects.
“I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why, if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education,” Mr. Obama said.
“And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch, as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country: Senator Edward Kennedy.”
Mr. Obama had pledged to expand the country’s national-service programs while campaigning for president. He had signed on as a co-sponsor of the Serve America Act while he was still in the Senate.