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"" Legislative Issues: ""
Legislative Update
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Current Legislation
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National Service Congressional Caucus
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111th Congress
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110th Congress
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109th Congress
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108th Congress
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109th Congress, January 4, 2005 to December 9, 2006
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Legislative Updates

Appropriations Commentary

Fiscal Year 2007

  • Click here to read a letter from 59 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives calling on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations leadership to support the more robust fiscal year 2007 funding levels for national service approved by their Senate colleagues.
  • Click here to read the response of over 100 Private Sector Leaders to the proposed AmeriCorps cuts.
  • Click here to read a letter from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) urging Congressional appropriators to increase funding for national service programs.
  • Click here to read a letter from 57 members of the U.S. House of Representatives calling on their colleagues to reject the funding cuts proposed by the White House.
  • Click here to read a resolution passed by the Philadelphia City Council urging Congress to restore federal funding for national service programs to the Fiscal Year 2004 level.
  • Click here to read a letter from representatives of AmeriCorps organizations serving in Greater Philadelphia.
  • Click here to read a letter from more than 300 national service programs that urges Congress to fully fund national service programs.
  • Click here to read a press release about Vermont's legislative stand for national service.
  • Click here to read a letter from 16 Senators calling on their colleagues to restore funding for the National Civilian Community Corps, while retaining funding for other national service programs.
  • Click here to read a resolution passed in the Vermont Senate calling on Congress to provide funding for the National Civilian Community Corps. 
  • Click here to read testimony submitted to Congress from Voices for National Service.
  • Click here to read a letter from Voices for National Service to President Bush urging him to increase support for AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America in his fiscal year 2007 budget.

Updates

Legislative Update, November 30, 2006

Congress will return next week, December 4, for a lame duck session.   Lawmakers, however, are not expected to finish the remainder of the fiscal 2007 spending bills before adjourning for the year.  Instead, they will enact another short-term continuing resolution, or stopgap spending measure, that will keep the government’s agencies and programs funded through January 2007.  

To date, Congress has cleared only two fiscal 2007 spending bills, Defense and Homeland Security.   Neither the House nor the Senate has voted on the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill, the measure that funds the Corporation for National and Community Service and its three core programs.  It is anticipated that the continuing resolution (CR) will continue to fund the Corporation’s programs at their FY06 enacted levels.

The 110th congressional session will begin January 4th, and the unfinished FY07 spending bills will be at the top of the legislative agenda.   President Bush’s FY08 budget recommendations will be submitted to Congress on Monday, February 5.

Legislative Update, November 15, 2006

On November 15, Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) introduced S.4053, the Summer of Service Act, along with six additional co-sponsors. The Summer of Service Act would create a competitive grant program enabling States and localities to offer students making the transition from middle to high school an opportunity to participate in a structured community service program over the summer months. To review the bill text and summary, click here.

Legislative Update, October 17, 2006

On October 17, the President signed HR. 6197, legislation to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. The bill contains language on older American volunteer and service activity and directs the Administration on Aging (AOA) to develop a comprehensive plan for engaging older adults in meeting critical community needs. AOA is to provide demonstration grants to nonprofit organizations to carry out multigenerational and civic engagement activities such as those that connect older and younger people in child care, youth day care, after school programs, and library and education assistance programs. To review the Older Americans Act legislation, click here.

Legislative Update, October 1, 2006

On October 1, the House and Senate adjourned, returning home through the mid-term elections. Before adjourning, Congress passed a stop-gap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR).

Fiscal year 2006 expired on October 1 and to date - only two of the 12 annual appropriations bills have passed both the House and Senate. The continuing resolution will keep funds flowing to most federal programs until the CR expires on November 17.

National service programs - funded through the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill - will stay funded at their fiscal year 2006 level for the duration of the CR.

Legislative Update, September 29, 2006

On September 29, 2006, led by the National Service Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs, 59 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter calling on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations leadership to support the more robust fiscal year 2007 funding levels for national service approved by their Senate colleagues. Click here, to read the letter.

The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee reported out a fiscal year 2007 funding bill that includes $876.5 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs. The Senate provides the agency $53.6 million more than the House and $25 million more than the President’s request.

Legislative Update, September 27, 2006

On September 27, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced the Public Service Academy Act. The Act would create a civilian public service academy similar to the Naval Academy or West Point.

The proposed 5,000-person undergraduate academy would be free to students in return for a five year commitment to work in government, in public schools, or in nonprofit or military organizations. The academy would train all students in emergency response to national disasters.

To learn more, visit www.uspublicserviceacademy.org.

Legislative Update, July 18, 2006

On July 18, 2006, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee reported out a fiscal year 2007 funding bill that includes $876.5 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs. The Senate provides the agency $53.6 million more than the House and $25 million more than the President’s request.

The Senate recommends:

  • $258.9 million for AmeriCorps State and National Grants ($41 million above the House bill, $6 million less than FY06)
  • $124.7 million for the National Service Trust ($13.8 million less than FY06)
  • $34.1 million for Learn and Serve America ($3 million less than FY06)
  • $26.7 million for the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) (level funding)
  • The Senate bill does not include the House language reducing the post-service AmeriCorps Education Award

There are many steps left in the appropriations process before final funding levels are enacted. First, the full Senate Appropriations Committee will meet on Thursday, July 20 to review the subcommittee’s recommendation. Next, the House and Senate bills will be brought to the floor for consideration, after which a special committee will meet to reconcile the differences. Finally, the House and Senate must pass an identical bill before it can be sent to the President for his signature.

The appropriations process could extend several months, and it is critical that we engage our congressional leaders during this time to build additional support for national service. Please invite Members of Congress to visit your program or participate in a day of service. You can click here for tips on how to schedule a visit with an elected official.

Legislative Update, June 28, 2006

The committee report which accompanied the House Labor-HHS Appropriations bill recommended cutting the post-service educational benefit by $675. Language in the committee report states that the AmeriCorps Education Award should track the maximum Pell Grant, which is currently $4050. A major difference: the Ed Award is taxed; Pell Grants are not. The Education Award has never been increased, despite escalating education costs.

Voices for National Service strongly opposes the post-service benefit cut. Reducing it sends the wrong message to those who wish to serve our country. Go to the Action Page to voice your own reaction to Members of Congress.

Legislative Update, June 7, 2006

On June 7th, the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee reported out an FY07 funding bill that includes $26.7M for the National Civilian Community Corps, but cuts AmeriCorps State and National Grants by nearly 20%.

The House bill provides $218 million for AmeriCorps grants ($46.7 million below FY06), $124.7 million for the National Service Trust ($13.9 million below FY06) and $34.2 million for Learn & Serve America ($3 million below FY06).

According to David Eisner, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO, "We are disappointed that the Subcommittee recommended funding level is below President Bush’s request; however, we anticipate getting further clarifications in the committee report which will be issued in the coming days. We also recognize that today’s markup is one step in a long process. The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration, and then on to the House floor. The Senate must also move a bill through its process, and the two bills must be reconciled by a conference committee before they are sent to the President for signature sometime in the fall. As each step in the process continues, we will share information with you as it becomes available." Click here to read the complete Eisner statement.

Legislative Update, May 4, 2006

On May 4, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 4939, the Fiscal Year 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill. The spending package funds ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and recovery and reconstruction activities in hurricane-affected Gulf Coast areas. Included in the bill is $20 million for the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to continue their disaster relief work in the Gulf through August 2007.

Two amendments were introduced to strike the NCCC funding from the bill by Senator Tom Coburn (OK) and Senator John Thune (SD). Senator Coburn voluntarily withdrew his amendment, and Senator Thune's amendment was defeated, 39-59.

Click here to review the vote tally and see how your senator voted.

A "Yea" vote was in support of Thune - taking the $20 million reserved for the NCCC and using it to increase funding for Veteran's Healthcare. A "Nay" vote was in opposition to Thune - sustaining the $20 million to support the NCCC's ongoing disaster relief assistance in the Gulf Coast Region.

The Emergency Supplemental now heads into conference, where the House and Senate must reconcile the differences between their individual bills. The House Supplemental provided $92 billion for defense, hurricane recovery and other projects, while the Senate bill totaled nearly $109 billion. How the conferees might reconcile the vastly different spending amounts and what cuts will be made are unclear.

Legislative Update, April 4, 2006

On April 4, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $106.5 billion Fiscal Year 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to support defense and foreign aid and hurricane relief and recovery efforts.  The Senate funding package includes $20 million for the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) to continue their disaster relief work in the Gulf Coast and other affected areas. 

The Supplemental is expected to come before the full Senate for debate during the week of April 24.  After its passage, the Senate's bill must be reconciled with the House-passed bill, which does not include funding for the NCCC.   

Legislative Update, February 6, 2006

On Monday, February 6, 2006, President Bush sent to Congress his fiscal year 2007 budget request which recommend $851 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service and its three core programs - AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn & Serve America. This recommendation is 5% below the Corporation's FY06 appropriation. While the Administration has proposed level funding for VISTA and Senior Corps, the FY07 Budget includes a $20 million reduction in AmeriCorps funding and an 8% cut ($3 million) for Learn & Serve. The White House also recommends the termination of the National Civilian Conservation Corps, providing $5 million to close the program's regional campuses.

For more information on the President's FY07 request, including a message from CNCS CEO David Eisner and a copy of the agency's Congressional Budget Justification, click here.

Appropriations Commentary

Fiscal Year 2006

  • Click here to see VNS testimony submitted to Congress.
  • Click here to read a letter signed by over 160 national service leaders urging President Bush to sustain support for national service.
  • Click here to read David Eisner's Written Testimony and Oral Testimony delivered before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
  • Click here to read a letter from 42 Members of Congress calling on House leaders to preserve and grow national service programs.

Legislative Update, December 22, 2005

On December 22, 2005, Congress passed the final Labor-Education-Health and Human Services spending bill, providing fiscal year 2006 funds for the Corporation for National and Community Service and its three major programs: AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America and Senior Corps.  The bill provides AmeriCorps with $407.5 million, $23 million less than last year.  Since AmeriCorps received its record appropriation in fiscal year 2004, funding for AmeriCorps operating grants has declined nearly 15%, $46 million.  

The funding package was approved and signed into law by President Bush on December 30th.

While Congressional support for national service continues to grow deeper, our supporters in Washington have other competing priorities and limited government resources are in demand. On February 7 and 8, 2006, Voices for National Service will host a celebration of service on Capitol Hill. These events, a congressional awards reception and the 3rd annual Voices for AmeriCorps, will take place the day after President Bush submits his Fiscal Year 2007 budget request to Congress.  This is a valuable opportunity to thank our champions and ask for their continued support.  To register for the D.C. events, please email info@voicesforservice.org.

Legislative Update, October 27, 2005

On Oct. 27, the Senate passed the fiscal year 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill, which contains a total of $935.2 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service. The total for FY05 was $927.01 million.  The bill includes $280 million in AmeriCorps State and National Grants, $149 million for the National Service Trust Fund, $42.6 million for Learn and Serve America, and $12.6 million in State Commission Administrative Grants.   Under this bill, several programs, including AmeriCorps Grants, AmeriCorps*NCCC, and Learn and Serve America, are slated to receive more than President Bush's request.  The Senate also approved an amendment proposed by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-CO, calling for a report on Corporation programs that are based in rural areas. The spending plan now moves to a conference committee, who will attempt to resolve the House-Senate differences and send a reconciled bill to the President for his signature.

Legislative Update, September 30, 2005

On September 30, fiscal year 2005 ended.   To date, only 2 of 11 fiscal year 2006 appropriations bills have been signed into law.   In order to keep the government running after the current fiscal year expired, Congress passed a seven week-long continuing resolution (CR).  The CR prevents a government shutdown as Congress continues to debate the 9 remaining funding bills, including the Labor, HHS and Education bill which funds the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs. 

The CR pegs the funding for each federal program to the lowest of three numbers - the House-passed 2006 funding level, the Senate-passed 2006 level or the fiscal year 2005 enacted appropriations.  This is a relatively unusual strategy that allows congressional leadership to cut costs in the short-term while also putting pressure on lawmakers to hurry up and finish the remaining bills.

AmeriCorps will be funded at the FY06 House-passed level, $413 million ($267 million for operating grants and $146 million for the trust).  This is $16 million below the program's fiscal year 2005 appropriation.   

Legislative Update, September 13, 2005

On September 13, in response to Hurricane Katrina, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. and the co-chairs of the National Service Congressional Caucus introduced legislation to expand AmeriCorps by 10,000 members.  H.R. 3796, the AmeriCorps Disaster Relief Corps Act, authorizes the Corporation for National and Community Service to award 10,000 additional AmeriCorps positions to programs providing humanitarian assistance to victims of major disasters and emergencies.  Corps members will help disaster victims rebuild their lives by providing urgent supplies and relocation assistance, constructing temporary housing for evacuees and providing much-needed teaching and administrative support functions for school systems where displaced children have enrolled. Corps members will also help local businesses get back on their feet and provide employment services for victims, such as job training and job placement assistance.  

According to Congressman Ford, "One of Katrina's most critical lessons is that, while government must assume a lead role in disaster recovery, it cannot act alone.  National service has never been more important or been ready to play a more important role than it is today.   Hurricane Katrina and the attacks of 9/11 showed us the kind of devastation that is possible from both natural and man-made causes.  The Disaster Relief Corps will harness the tremendous outpouring of civic pride and volunteerism that we have all witnessed in recent days and put it to work to rebuild America." 

Current cosponsors of H.R. 3796 include: Representatives Chris Shays (R-CT), Tom Osborne (R-NE), David Price (D-NC), Susan Davis (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Major Owens (D-NY), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and David Vitter (R-LA) have included the AmeriCorps Disaster Relief Corps Act to their Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation to provide long-term relief and much-needed assistance to the people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast as they work to recover and rebuild the region.

Legislative Update, July 24, 2005

On June 24, the U.S. House Representatives passed the fiscal year 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, a package that includes $416 million for AmeriCorps State and National grants and the National Service Trust.   The House appropriation is $5 million below President Bush's FY06 request and $14 million less than last year's enacted level.   The White House's Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy before the bill's passage noting that: "The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for national service programs but is disappointed that the Committee did not fully fund the request for AmeriCorps grants...These programs would support 75,000 AmeriCorps members and volunteer teachers in low-income, underserved communities."  SAP.

Since AmeriCorps received its record appropriation in fiscal year 2004, funding for AmeriCorps State and National Grants has seen a steady and persistent decline.   This year the House recommended $270 million for grants, $17 million less than FY05.  The money organizations use for program operation was cut by 8.5% in FY05 and the House cuts another 6% this year.  A continued reduction in operational support will disproportionately affect programs in rural or low-wealth communities who lack the depth of private sector funding needed to offset program expenses.

During debate on the bill, an amendment was introduced by Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) to transfer $70 million from AmeriCorps State and National Grants to fund the Department of Education's Teacher Incentive Fund.   The House had already provided $100 million in new money for the teacher incentive program, and the Appropriations Committee opposed the Tom Price amendment.   The National Service Congressional Caucus (co-chaired by Reps. Chris Shays (R-CT), David Price (D-NC), Tom Osborne (R-NE) and Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN)) quickly mobilized, sending letters to their colleagues urging them to resist all efforts to strike the AmeriCorps funding from the bill.   The Tom Price amendment was defeated by a vote of 298 to 102, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for AmeriCorps in the House. Roll Call vote.

The Labor-HHS bill has been referred to the Senate for their consideration, and a Senate subcommittee markup has been scheduled for July 12. 

Legislative Update, March 3, 2005

For the past 10 years, the Corporation for National and Community Service and its programs have been funded by two separate Appropriations subcommittees – Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (VISTA and Senior Corps) and Veteran Affairs-Housing and Urban Development–Independent Agencies (AmeriCorps, NCCC, and Learn and Serve). Recently both the Senate and the House Appropriations Committees elected to disband the VA-HUD Subcommittee, changing the way they fund the Corporation and its programs. Under the new structure, funding responsibility for all Corporation programs is transferred to the Labor-HHS Subcommittee. For the first time, the entire Corporation budget will be considered by a single subcommittee in each house of Congress.

The House Labor-HHS Subcommittee has scheduled their hearing on the Corporation’s FY06 budget for April 20, 2005. CEO David Eisner will testify before the Subcommittee.

Legislative Update, February 7, 2005

On February 7, President Bush sent his FY06 budget request to Capitol Hill. The $2.57 trillion funding package included $421 million for AmeriCorps operating grants to support 75,000 members. The budget request expands AmeriCorps membership by 5,000 members (over the FY05 enacted level) at the same time overall funding is reduced by 2.3 percent.

Since AmeriCorps received its record appropriation in fiscal year 2004, the program has seen a decline in its funding. The President’s request is $9 million below the FY05 enacted level ($430M) and $20 million below FY04 ($441M).

 

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