03.18.09

NATIONAL SERVICE LEGISLATION HEADED TO SENATE FLOOR

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Edward M.Kennedy (D-Mass.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), all members of the SenateHealth, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) today applauded Committee passageof the Serve America Act (S. 277), legislation that greatly expands domestic service opportunities for all Americans.

Continuing the bipartisan tradition of national servicelegislation, the Serve America Act was written by HELP Committee Chairman Kennedy andSenator Hatch. Senators Enzi and Mikulski were also integral in crafting the bill. Thislegislation enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress and from President Obama, and its quickpassage out of Committee moves it one step closer to becoming law. Senator Mikulski presidedover today’s Committee markup.

“I want to thank Senator Kennedy, Senator Hatch and Senator Enzi for their hard workcrafting this legislation. Many of us present here today have participated in service in ourlifetimes and, in giving back, we all got back more than we ever gave. This bill is not aboutprograms, it’s about American values – the spirit of volunteerism and neighbor helpingneighbor. By creating opportunities for Americans to participate in their society, this bill willmake a major contribution to our country,” Senator Mikulski said.

“This legislation represents the best of America’s ideals – offering a helping hand to ourneighbors and to our country. Today’s action brings us closer to our goal of giving Americans ofall ages greater opportunities to serve their communities and their nation. I commend Senator Mikulski, Senator Hatch and Senator Enzi for their effective bipartisan leadership in moving thisimportant measure forward,” Senator Kennedy said.

“Volunteer service is the lifeblood of our nation. It brings out the best in our people andstrengthens our communities. That is why the Serve America Act is so important. This historiclegislation will inspire civic-minded Americans across the nation to raise the bar of service andmeet every challenge,” Senator Hatch said.

“A comprehensive reauthorization of our national service statutes is long overdue.Working across the aisle and with the House, we have found areas where we can makeimprovements, eliminate waste, and expand our efforts responsibly. This bill is not perfect, but I am pleased with a number of the agreements we have been able to reach. I’m particularly pleased with the improvements we have made to expand access to national service programs insmall and rural communities,” Senator Enzi said.

The Serve America Act builds on the lessons learned from the National and CommunityService Act of 1990, which created a program that evolved into what is now AmeriCorps. In addition to strengthening key AmeriCorps components, the Serve America Act also adds newservice opportunities for Americans from elementary school children to retirees. The billprovides $5 billion over 5 years with the goal of funding 250,000 volunteers engaged in targetedservice in areas of national need, such as: energy conservation, healthcare and education.

For a summary of the Serve America Act, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/_pdfs/Press/TheServeAmericaActSummary.pdf The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Serve America Act today. The Senate will vote on the bill next week.

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Press Contact

Rachel MacKnight, Mikulski, 202-228-1122 Melissa Wagoner, Kennedy, 202-224-2633 Mark Eddington, Hatch, 202-224-5251 Craig Orfield, Enzi, 202-224-6770