H.R. 1388—Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act
Legislative Bulletin………….………………March 18, 2009
H.R. 1388—Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act
H.R. 1388—Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act (McCarthy, D-NY)
Order of Business: H.R. 1388 is scheduled to be considered Wednesday, March 18, 2009, subject to a structured rule (H.Res. 250) that waives all points of order against consideration of the bill except for clause 9 of Rule XXI (earmarks) and clause 10 of Rule XXI (PAYGO) and makes in order the 11 amendments listed below. All amendments are debatable for 10 minutes, except for the Manager’s Amendment, which is debatable for 30 minutes.
Background: In the 110th Congress, H.R. 2857 came to the House floor on March 6, 2008. The bill was pulled from the floor due to the Republican Motion to Recommit which would have required background checks for participants in the national service programs and would have prohibited sex offenders from serving in some prisons. The bill was brought up under suspension on March 12, 2008 as H.R. 5563. The bill included the Republican Motion to Recommit in the text. The language is also included in H.R. 1388. Many RSC Members voted against the bill last year. To see how your boss voted, click here.
Summary: H.R. 1388 would amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (DVSA) to revise their programs and reauthorize their appropriations through FY2014. The NCSA authorizes Learn and Serve, AmeriCorps, the National Civilian Community Corps, and the Points of Light Foundation (which is not reauthorized in this bill). The DVSA authorizes the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the National Senior Volunteer Corps. The authorizations for these programs expired at the end of FY1996. They are, however, funded in appropriations bills each year.
All of the programs authorized under these statutes are administered by an independent federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service (referred to in this document at “the Corporation”).
Title I—Amendments to the National Community Service Act of 1990
Learn and Serve America
According to ExpectMore.gov (a website developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to rate federal programs) this program is intended to support and promote “service-learning.” It awards grants to community organizations and education institutions that implement or promote service-learning programs to increase the likelihood that student participants will become more civically engaged and volunteer more in their communities.
The bill restructures the funding under this program so that 60 percent of the funds go towards elementary and secondary students; 25 percent go toward higher education programs; and 15 percent goes toward innovative and demonstration service-learning programs. Under current law, the breakdown is 63.75% for elementary and secondary students; 11.25 percent for community-based programs for school-age youth (replaced with the innovative and demonstration service-learning programs in this bill); and 35 percent for higher education programs. Each of the programs in the new bill are outlined below.
School-based Programs for Elementary and Secondary Students
Higher Education Programs
Innovative Service-Learning Programs and Research
Authorization of Appropriations for Learn and Serve
Authorization of Appropriations for AmeriCorps
National Service Trust
According to ExpectMore.gov, this program is meant to engage Americans in service to address unmet community needs in areas such as education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps provides grants to a wide variety of organizations to serve communities in addressing local needs.
Authorization of Appropriations for National Service Trust
National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
According to ExpectMore.gov, this program is a residential community service program for young adults age 18-24, the purpose of which is to promote civic engagement. Members serve disaster preparedness and response needs across the country. This program is scored as ineffective according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Authorization of Appropriations for NCCC: Under H.R.1388, the NCCC would be authorized at $35 million for FY 2010 and such sums as may be necessary for FY 2011 through 2014. The FY2009 appropriation was $27.5 million.
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
According to their website, “The Corporation is the nation’s largest grantmaker supporting service and volunteering. Through our Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, we provide opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to express their patriotism while addressing critical community needs.”
Authorization of Appropriations
Investment for Quality and Innovation, Subtitle H
Authorization of Appropriations for the Investment for Quality and Innovation
Training and Technical Assistance
Repeal of Title III
Title II—Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973
H.R. 1388 also would amend and reauthorize programs under the Domestic Volunteer
Service Act of 1973, including Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and volunteer programs aimed at engaging senior citizens in service activities.
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)
According to ExpectMore.gov, this program “supports efforts to alleviate poverty by placing volunteers in communities for 12 months of full-time intensive service. These volunteers strengthen local organizations that serve low-income communities, encourage local volunteer service, and generate the commitment of private sector resources.”
Authorization of Appropriations for VISTA: The bill would authorize $100 million for FY2010 and such sums as may be necessary for each of FY2011 through FY2014. The FY2009 appropriation for this program is $96.1 million.
National Senior Service Corps
Foster Grandparent Program
Senior Companion Programs
Additional Background on AmeriCorps: In the past, some RSC Members have suggested that funding for the National and Community Service Act be eliminated from the budget. According to this RSC report, AmeriCorps, which receives the bulk of the funding under the Act, is an inefficient and expensive way of assisting individuals to pay for college by stretching the notion of what constitutes a “volunteer.” In addition, AmeriCorps is not means-tested. As a result, children of wealthy people can edge out low-income children for participation.
According to the AmeriCorps website, the following questions address the benefits that AmeriCorps “volunteers” receive:
Do I get paid?
For all AmeriCorps programs, members receive a modest living allowance, and some programs provide housing. You may not save much money during your year of service, but most members find the living allowance to be adequate to cover their needs. AmeriCorps members who complete a term of service also receive an AmeriCorps Education Award.
What if I’m out of school and not interested in the education award? Can I get that money in cash?
If you’re part of AmeriCorps*VISTA, you may opt for a cash payment of $100 per month of service instead of the education award. All other AmeriCorps members are eligible only for the education award.
Can I defer student loans during my service with AmeriCorps?
You may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help you pay off qualified student loans when you’re finished. Contact your lender for more specific information or to confirm your loan status during AmeriCorps service.
What are the benefits of serving with AmeriCorps*NCCC?
AmeriCorps*NCCC members receive a living allowance of approximately $4,000 for the 10 months of service (about $200 every two weeks before taxes), housing, meals, limited medical benefits, up to $400 a month for childcare, if necessary, member uniforms, and an education award of $4,725 upon successful completion of the program.
What do the medical benefits cover?
The medical benefits plan covers all injuries and/or illnesses suffered during service and most pharmacy needs. The plan does not cover medical care for pre-existing medical illnesses and/or injuries.
Can I bring my child/children with me to the campus?
Children are not permitted to live with members at the campus. AmeriCorps*NCCC members with children must make arrangements for someone to care for their child/children while they are in the program. Members that have custody of their children are eligible for up to $400 per month to help pay for child care while they serve with the program.
Furthermore, the following questionable programs have been funded by AmeriCorps in the past:
Many of the programs reauthorized and expanded in H.R. 1388 are ineffective and inefficient. ExpectMore.gov, a website developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, with the goal to assess the performance of every Federal program in order to hold programs accountable for improvement, has audited these programs. According to ExpectMore.gov, the programs included in H.R. 1388 have been audited as follows:
Learn and Serve: Not Performing; Results Not Demonstrated
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps: Not performing; Ineffective
AmeriCorps State and National Grants: Performing; Adequate
AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America: Performing; Adequate
Conservative Concerns: Many conservatives are concerned that H.R. 1388 would expand and authorize programs that have been audited and considered ineffective by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (see above). In addition, many conservatives may be concerned with AmeriCorps history of funding projects that some conservatives find objectionable (ex. Planned Parenthood of Western Washington). Along with Planned Parenthood of Washington, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center (LAGLC) has received funding from AmeriCorps as well. According to this article, published in 2000, the LAGLC was given AmeriCorps funding to go into schools and prevent “anti-gay” bias:
The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center (LAGLC), the nation’s largest gay rights organization, has received more than $200,000 in support from AmeriCorps. The LAGLC AmeriCorps program is “focusing on society’s last ‘acceptable’prejudice: anti-gay bias,” according to a LAGLC program update. AmeriCorps members distributed a survey in L.A. schools that implied that students should report to school authorities any time they heard any student make a derogatory comment to any other student. An example of anti-gay bias that Gwen Baldwin, the LAGLC executive director, offered was “one person not being invited to a lunch table.”
According to a Heritage Foundation report from 2002,
… AmeriCorps participants should be prohibited from working for programs that promote abortion or refer individuals to abortion providers. The Delaware chapter of Planned Parenthood, for instance, currently advertises its AmeriCorps grant for 20 participants “to provide human sexuality education and referrals for services to teens and their parents.”
According to an annual report from Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas (PPHSET),
In 2000-2001 PPHSET initiated the Planned Parenthood Sex Education Team (PPHset), which was comprised of six Americorps youth. This creative group developed program performances featuring dance, music and drama to educate peers in 42 schools in Houston and southeast Texas.
Not only are many potentially contentious organizations receiving funds through AmeriCorps, many of these organizations are double, and triple dipping at the federal “trough”. For example, AmeriCorps funds numerous legal services organizations (see above) who may already be receiving funds under the Legal Services Corporation Act (42 U.S.C. Sect. 2996). Some conservatives may be concerned that this is an egregious example of wasteful government spending.
Furthermore, many conservatives may not agree that individuals who are paid monthly stipends, compensated for living expenses, and granted healthcare benefits should be classified as volunteers—AmeriCorps indentifies their participants as volunteers.
Some conservatives may also be concerned that a notable provision included in Congressman Hoekstra’s bill, the Citizen Service Act of 2002 (H.R. 4854) was left out of H.R. 1388. This provision would have ensured that AmeriCorps funding is not used to operate programs directed at youth that are designed to promote or encourage sexual activity; to distribute obscene materials to minors on school grounds; to provide sex education that is not age appropriate and excludes discussion of abstinence; to provide HIV-prevention instruction that is not age appropriate and excludes discussion of abstinence or the risks of HPV; or to operate a program of contraceptive distribution in schools. As was previously noted, AmeriCorps funding has been used for sex education programs, including programs put on by Planned Parenthood. Some conservatives may be concerned that this provision, that would have provided a safeguard against activities that many parents deem inappropriate for their children, was disregarded by the Majority.
Many conservatives may be concerned that the programs authorized and expanded in this bill reflect a big government response to local and community needs—instead of a more effective encouragement of community and individual response to such need.
Finally, the Democrat Committee website states that H.R. 1388 “Grows the number of volunteers nationwide to 250,000, up from 75,000.” While CBO has not scored H.R. 1388, it scored the bill last Congress as authorizing $6.2 billion over five years. Using both that authorization level and the number of projected volunteers that this bill aims to produce, and assuming these numbers stay the same, RSC has estimated that the bill will provide $24,800 per volunteer.
Groups Opposing H.R. 1388: Citizens Against Government Waste, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, National Taxpayers Union, Focus on the Family
Committee Action: H.R. 1388 was introduced on March 9, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Education and Labor. On March 16, 2009, the Committee held a mark-up and ordered the bill reported, as amended, by a vote of 34-3.
Administration Position: No Statement of Administration Policy was available at press time.
Cost to Taxpayers: No CBO score was available at press time. However, in the 110th Congress, according to CBO, H.R. 2857 would authorize appropriations of about $1 billion for fiscal year 2008. CBO estimates that authorizations under H.R. 2857 would total $6.2 billion over the 2008-2012 period for grants and other activities, including education awards for participants in national service activities.
Does the Bill Expand the Size and Scope of the Federal Government? Yes, the bill creates new programs under the National Community Service Act of 1990, increases authorizations, and expands the authority of such programs.
Does the Bill Contain Any New State-Government, Local-Government, or Private-Sector Mandates? No.
Does the Bill Comply with House Rules Regarding Earmarks/Limited Tax Benefits/Limited Tariff Benefits?: The Committee on Education and Labor, in House Report 111-37, asserts that, “H.R. 1388 does not contain any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clauses 9(d), 9(e) or 9(f) of rule XXI of the House of Representatives.”
Constitutional Authority: The Committee on Education and Labor, in House Report 111-37, cites constitutional authority in Article I, section 8, clause I of the U.S. Constitution.
RSC Staff Contact: Natalie Farr; email@example.com; 202-226-0718.