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More on the GIVE Act

March 23, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The GIVE Act, which Avelino wrote about here, is scheduled for an initial vote today in the Senate. Basically, the bill would expand funding for AmeriCorps and establish other volunteer corps to deal with specific areas, like clean energy, education and health.

The bill has been getting a lot of attention on OpenCongress (almost all negative) and has been making the rounds in the blogs. It’s currently the second most-viewed bill on OpenCongress and the most-blogged about bill on the web.

A lot of what’s being said about the bill, however, is misinformation. If you look at the blog posts about the bill you can see that people are writing that the bill requires Americans to serve and that it makes volunteerism mandatory. This is not true. The original version of the bill did contain a section to establish a “Congressional Commission on Civic Service” charged with researching the possibility of “a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed.” But that was removed by the manager’s amendment (.pdf) that accompanied the bill. That provision has been removed and is not in the version passed by the House or the version being considered by the Senate.

Now, if you oppose a mandatory service requirement for young people, it’s certainly still meaningful that the original version of the bill would have laid the groundwork for that. I just want to make clear that there is no mention of it in the bill that is moving forward in Congress.

The other main criticism of the bill – that it is unnecessary spending – is based in fact. The Congressional Budget Office has determined (.pdf) that the bill would cost about $6 billion over the 2010-2014 period.

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