Sens. Kennedy & Hatch Introduce National Service Legislation

October 1, 2008

On Friday, September 12th, Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced S. 3487, The Serve America Act.  A major legislative initiative to expand and improve domestic and international service opportunities, the bill will recruit Americans of all ages to do service work in health, education, environmental protection and anti-poverty programs.  Senator Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement, the "Serve America Act" will "connect every generation through service, and enable them to help tackle a wide range of national challenges, from the dropout crisis that plagues our schools to the lack of health care in our neediest communities to the energy and environmental crises that threatens our planet."  Senator Hatch said, "By harnessing the talents and efforts of the American people, faith-based groups and nonprofit organizations, we can empower more people, improve more communities and tackle more of our nation's greatest challenges."  

S. 3487 will expand opportunities for people to serve their communities at every stage of life, from students and working adults to retirees. The original cosponsors include both presidential candidates, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL), as well as Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).

The introduction of S. 3487 is the first step towards the passage of a comprehensive national service reauthorization bill that will build off the success of the existing national service programs.  Programs like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America have not been reauthorized in 15 years and legislation is needed to help strengthen and expand the federally supported service initiatives, stimulate community volunteerism, and increase accountability and efficiency within the administration of the programs. S.3487 builds and expands the national service infrastructure to further address critical community needs while developing civic competencies in those who participate.