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Senate Passes Serve America Act

March 27, 2009

March 26, 2009

This evening, the Senate passed the Serve America Act by a roll call vote of 78 to 20. The bill will improve and strengthen the national service programs and increase levels of volunteerism, using service and social innovation to address our nation’s most pressing challenges. The bipartisan legislation – written by Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Hatch (R-UT), with crucial support from Senators Enzi (R-WY) and Mikulski (D-MD) – embodies President Obama’s bold vision for service playing an important role in America becoming a stronger nation. Statements from the bill’s managers, Senators Mikulski and Hatch, underscore the broad bipartisan support that exists for the legislation that creates a new platform for service and social innovation in the country. {News article here}

“I want to thank Senator Kennedy, Senator Hatch and Senator Enzi for their hard work crafting this legislation. Many of us present here today have participated in service in our lifetimes and, in giving back, we all got back more than we ever gave. This bill is not about programs, it’s about American values – the spirit of volunteerism and neighbor helping neighbor. By creating opportunities for Americans to participate in their society, this bill will make a major contribution to our country.” – Senator Mikulski

“Volunteer service is the lifeblood of our nation. It brings out the best in our people and strengthens our communities. That is why the Serve America Act is so important. This historic legislation will inspire civic-minded Americans across the nation to raise the bar of service and meet every challenge.” – Senator Hatch

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. Thank you to all of the organizations and individuals who signed on to letters and directly contacted Senate offices in support of the the Serve America Act. Every call and letter helped to ensure final passage of this important piece of legislation!

CONGRATULATIONS to all the wonderful people and organizations who helped make this happen (including our own amazing Policy Liasons)!!!

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