STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
(Rep. McCarthy (D) NY and 37 cosponsors)
The President has called on Congress to send him bipartisan legislation to encourage a renewed spirit of national service. The Administration commends the Senate for acting promptly to move bipartisan legislation that will expand high-quality service opportunities and position the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support both growth and excellence in the programs it oversees. The Administration understands that the Senate will consider a substitute for H.R. 1388 that is similar to the text of S. 277, the Serve America Act, sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Hatch. The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of S. 277, which would move the process one step closer to the President's goal of signing into law legislation that promotes civic participation and service.
The Administration is pleased that under S. 277, the Corporation would develop a plan to set the agency on a responsible path towards 250,000 members within eight years, subject to appropriations. The Administration is committed to creating high-quality service opportunities that allow Americans to serve their communities and help the Nation meet its most pressing challenges.
The Administration applauds the bill's focus on service learning and provisions that would increase the Eli Segal Education Award and link future increases in award amounts to the maximum Pell Grant awards.
The Administration has called on Americans from all walks of life to take part in civic renewal, and is therefore pleased that S. 277 also would expand and improve service opportunities for seniors. The Administration would like the bill to include the responsible and balanced introduction of competition into the Senior Corps programs, which would better position the program for expansion. Competition will improve the quality of service opportunities for seniors while introducing greater accountability and innovation.
As the Federal investment in national service programs increases, the Administration is committed to making the programs more accountable and cost-effective, and supports the many ways in which S. 277 would foster this. In particular, the Administration supports the bill's provisions to consolidate funding in AmeriCorps, giving the Corporation flexibility to support the best programs. The Administration is pleased that the bill would expand authority for fixed-amount grants that simplify reporting requirements, ease burdens on grantees, and strengthen accountability for performance.
The Administration is pleased that the bill includes the President's initiative to create "Social Innovation Funds" to provide seed money and scale up capital for innovative and evidence-based efforts in the nonprofit sector to address social problems, and for leveraging private and foundation capital to meet major social challenges.
S. 277 couples expanded and improved national service with the structural changes needed to support growth and produce excellent results for the participants and our Nation. The Administration appreciates working with Congress to get this important legislation enacted.