Obama’s Remarks on Signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Today, President Obama made the following remarks before signing the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

Barack Obama on national service

The transcript was released by the Office of the White House Press Secretary. Re-play the signing and hear the speech for yourself on CSPAN.

Thank you.  Please be seated.  Thank you.  Well, what an extraordinary day.  It is good to be here with all of you.

I want to, first of all, thank President Bill Clinton for joining us here today — where’s President Clinton? — (applause) — for his lifetime of service to our country, but also the fact that he created AmeriCorps, and that not only made this day possible, it has directly enlisted more than half a million Americans in service to their country; service that has touched the lives of millions more.

Now, it just so happens that one of those people who have been touched by AmeriCorps was FLOTUS, otherwise known as First Lady of the United States — (laughter) — Michelle Obama, who ran a AmeriCorps-sponsored Continue reading

Serve America Act Passes the Senate


Update, April 21, 2009: President Obama signs the Serve America Act into law. To take effect October 1, 2009.

Today in the U.S. Senate, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act passed, 79-19.picture-43

The legislation re-authorizes and expands domestic and international service opportunities for all Americans. See how your senators voted. Last week the companion bill passed the House.

Senator Orrin Hatch added an amendment at the last minute to re-name the legislation after Senator Edward Kennedy.

The bill was amended on the Senate floor and the legislation was expanded to include the following:

  • Baucus Amendment to express the Sense of the Senate that Congress should preserve the income tax deduction for charitable contributions and look for ways to continue to encourage charitable giving.
  • Burr Modified Amendment to improve the provisions relating to criminal history checks.
  • Warner Amendment to conduct a study regarding the establishment of a Volunteer Management Corps program.

The bill is expected to be sent back to the House of Representatives for quick approval of the Senate’s changes, with the goal of getting the bill to President Obama for signature next week.

Senator Mikulski said, “I want to thank Senator Kennedy, Senator Hatch and Senator Enzi for their hard work crafting this Continue reading

Answering the Call from Citizens Who Want to Serve

AmeriCorps muscleThese days the fate of national service seems tied more than ever to the greater economic struggles our nation is facing. Citizens want to serve in their communities, and this week the Senate is debating legislation that would make it possible for more people to serve than ever before.

September 11th and 12th of last year, the Service Nation Summit convened hundreds of leaders, service corps alumni, and celebrities to talk about the need for expanded national service opportunities, to meet the growing demand among people of all ages to serve full-time in their communities.

While Summit participants were still returning home in the glow of that inspiring event, Lehman Brothers—just blocks from where the Summit took place in mid-town Manhattan—crumbled, and the bottom began to fall out of the economy.

This week, the U.S. Senate will take a hard look at the Serve America Act, a piece of legislation announced at the Service Nation Summit by Senator Orrin Hatch (while his partner Sen. Edward Kennedy, convalescing at home, joined him in spirit).

Little known in September was just how desperately needed this legislation would become by the time it saw the floor of the Continue reading

Senate HELP Committee Authorizes the Serve America Act

Update, April 21, 2009: President Obama signs the Serve America Act into law. To take effect October 1, 2009.

The Senate’s companion bill to the GIVE Act (which passed on the floor of the House yesterday) successfully moved out of committee yesterday and will likely be voted on by the entire Senate membership next week.

In the Senate yesterday, the Serve America Act (S.277) was unanimously approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Similar to the GIVE Act, the Serve America Act seeks to expand national service and volunteer programs, to engage citizens in solving problems facing communities throughout the country.

In his State-of-the-Union-esque address to Congress last month, President Obama specifically asked congressional leaders to pass the Serve America Act introduced by Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Hatch (R-UT). (Read also his TIME Article from today, calling for a “New Era of Service.”)

Read the joint press release (PDF) issued yesterday by Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Enzi (R-WY), Hatch (R-UT) and Mikulski (D-MD).

Read the amended Serve America Act (PDF) approved by the Senate HELP Committee.

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