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Beyond Starts Today: September 2007
National Service in the 2008 Presidential Election
by Greg Heinrich- AmeriCorps Class of '05

 
Who is she? Current junior Senator from New York- the first former First Lady to be elected to public office.  By most accounts, Senator Clinton is the leading Democratic Presidential candidate.  Clinton declared her candidacy exactly two years to the day before the next U.S. President is inaugurated.
 
Hillary ClintonNational Service agenda? Senator Clinton's most ambitious national service effort is tied to the United States Public Service Academy - a concept that aims to create an undergraduate public institutuion that trains and builds a corps of of civic leaders who are equipped to address the issues facing our local, state, national, and international communities. Academy co-founder Chris Myers Asch states, "Sen. Clinton has been our strongest champion on the Hill." As one of two lead sponsors of the legislation- S.960- Clinton is positioning the U.S. Public Service Academy as the centerpiece of her national service agenda.

Why take her National Service agenda seriously? Because AmeriCorps is a legacy program of former President Clinton, it is seen as likely that Senator Clinton would continue to enhance and build upon the national service infrastructure of her husband.
National Service Track Record in Congress? Clinton has been a staunch supporter of national service initiatives.  Not surprisingly- since former President Clinton signed the legislation creating AmeriCorps- Clinton has regularly voted to preserve funding for AmeriCorps each time it has come under duress during the budgetary process.  Clinton's Congressional voting and participation record on national service issues are chronicled below.

Legend:  Supported National Service    Opposed National Service     N/A No Action
108th Congress
109th Congress
Sent letters of support to White House
calling for Emergency Supplemental
funding for AmeriCorps programs
SENATE Supplemental Appropriations-
Amendment to strike $100M in
emergency funding for AmeriCorps
Sponsor: Sessions (SAmdt 1202 tabled)
Sent letters of support to the Corporation expressing concerns with AmeriCorps and Learn & Serve Rulemaking.
Sent letter in support of FY07 funding for NCCC
FY07 Emergency Supplemental Amendment- transfer $20 million for the NCCC in the Gulf Region to support the Department of Veterans Affairs for Medical Facilities.  Sponsor:Thune (S.Amdt. 3704 / H.R. 4939 - defeated)
 
Who is he? A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Christopher Dodd is currently the senior Senator from the state of Connecticut. Dodd leads the pack amongst Presidential candidates when it comes to national and community service. Dodd announced his intention to run for President in January 2007, and announced his national and international service agenda on the very same steps in Nashua, NH where President John F. Kennedy (created Peace Corps) began his Presidential campaign.
 

Senator Chris Dodd at a Jan 2007 campaign eventNational Service Agenda? While not considered a main contender for the Democratic nomination, we include Dodd here because he elected to make national service his signature issue, and he has a comprehensive plan to back it up. Highlights from Dodd's plan include:

  • Elevating the Corporation for National & Community Service to a Cabinet level position
  • Increasing the size of AmeriCorps from 75,000 members per year to 1,000,000 members per year by 2016.
  • Doubling the size of the Peace Corps by 2011
  • Offer tax credits of up to $1,000 per worker to employers who offer paid time off for community service
  • Requiring 100 hours of service as a pre-requisite for public high school students to graduate
  • Providing incentive grants ($1,000) for volunteer seniors which may be used on their own continuing education or on that of a child or a grandchild's.

Why take his National Service agenda seriously? Dodd's proposal to enact broad sweeping national and community service reform would alter the civic landscape for the foreseeable future.  Any effort designed to truly capture the public's ability to strengthen the country's infrastructure deserves a serious look, and Dodd's plan certainly fits that criteria.
National Service track record in Congress? Dating back to passage of the National Service Trust Act of 1993 during the 103rd Congress, Senator Dodd's record indicates unwavering support for all legislation directed at establishing and enhancing national service.  Dodd's Congressional voting and participation record on national service issues are chronicled below.

Legend: Supported National Service      Opposed National Service    N/A No Action
103rd
Congress
104th
Congress
105th
Congress
108th
Congress
109th
Congress
National Service
Trsut Act of
1993 (HR
2010-passed)
Senate VA-HUD Approps.
Amndmnt. to
restore fun-
ding for nat'l
service programs.
Sponsor: Mikulski (S.Amdt. 2781-
failed)
Senate VA-HUD
Approps.
Amdtmnt. to reduce funding for
AmeriCorps
Sponsor: Sessions
(SAmdt 3206-
tabled)
Sent letter of
support to
White House
calling for
Emerg. Supp.
funding for
AmeriCorps
programs
SENATE Suppl.
Approps.
Amndmnt to
strike $100M
in emerg.
funding for
AC from bill
Sponsor:
Sessions
(S.Amdt 1202-
tabled)
Sent letters of
support to CNCS expres-
ing concerns
with AC and Learn & Serve Rule-
making
Sent letter in support of FY07 funding for
NCCC
FY07 Emergency Supplemental
Amdt. to trans-
fer $20M for
the NCCC Gulf
effort to support Dep't of VA for Medical Facilities. Sponsor: Thune
(S.Amdt. 3704/ H.R. 3939-
defeated)
N/A
 

JOHN EDWARDS
Who is he? Former one-term Senator from North Carolina and vice-presidential running mate of John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election. John Edwards currently runs an anti-poverty center, and his efforts against poverty have become his signature issue since he departed the Senate in 2004.  As the son of a textile mill worker, his humble roots have allowed him a greater sense of connection to poverty-related issues and those affected by poverty.  Edwards announced his Presidential candidancy at the end of 2006.

John EdwardsNational Service Agenda?  While Edwards has not presented a formal national service plan, he has verbally committed (watch here) to expanding AmeriCorps by 100,000 members in his first term, favors compulsory community service for high school graduation, and wants to build a GreenCorps to combat global warming.
Why take his National Service agenda seriously? Although Edwards' verbal commitment to the expansion of AmeriCorps is a nice start, in order for his national service agenda to be elevated to a truly serious level, Edwards needs to pitch a concrete national service plan that formally presents his position and ideas on expanding national service in this country.
 
National Service track record in Congress? Records not available
 

Who is he? A former U.S. District Attorney and the former mayor of New York, Giuliani is often referred to as America's Mayor for the unflinching poise and determination with which he handled 9/11 and its aftermath. Since 9/11, Giuliani has constantly been in the political spotlight, and the speculation that he would run for President in 2008 was confirmed when he created a Presidential exploratory committee just after the November, 2006 mid-term elections.

Rudolph Giuliani

National Service agenda? Giuliani has not presented a specific national service plan, but he has made it clear that he opposes any type of compulsory mandate for national service. Although he has not come forward with an official plan, it would be difficult to believe that the massive display of volunteer support by national service members during 9/11 did not leave an indelible impression in the mind of Giuliani- as it relates to national service.
 
Why take his National Service agenda seriously? Much like Romney, Giuliani will need to at least officially present his views on national service before anybody can think of him as an ally in the effort to expand and enhance national service.
 

National Service track record in Congress? N/A

 

Who is he? The senior senator from Arizona, Senator John McCain is one of the most respected and influential members of the Senate.  His well-documented service in the military and subsequent stint of service in Congress (since 1982), leave little doubt that he is a man who possesses all the prerequisites to serve as Commander-in-chief.  McCain declared his Presidential candidacy in April, 2007.

John McCainNational Service Agenda? McCain says, "If we are to have a resurgence of patriotic service in this country, then programs like AmeriCorps must be expanded...(full article)." Such comments paint a clear picture of where his national service plan is headed.  McCain's agenda* includes:
  • Providing an $18,000 enlistment bonus for citizens entering into military service (S. 1792 of 107th Congress)
  • Expanding the number of AmeriCorps members to 250,000(S. 1792)
  • Increasing the value of the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award (Ed Award) to $5,250 (S. 1274 of 108th Congress) and allow for transferability of the Ed Award to family members (spouse, son, daughter, or grandchild)
  • Encouraging "our nation's colleges to step up to the plate and more aggressively promote service"
Why take his national service agenda seriously? McCain's level of commitment to national service is perhaps only matched in intensity by Dodd.  His repeated and vocal support for national service make it clear that, if elected President, he would dramatically expand and enhance the scope of national service.
 
National Service Track Record in Congress? Although McCain was initially skeptical about national service programs like AmeriCorps, he has since publicly stated that this line of thinking was incorrect.  Since that shift in mindset, McCain's voting record has undeniably supported national service, even going above and beyond of what is required of him, participating in national service-specific events in both the 108th and 109th Congresses (2003-2006).  McCain also introduced national service legislation- the Call to Serve Act (S. 1792) and co-sponsored another bill by the same name (S. 1274)- in the 107th and 108th Congresses, respectively.
 
Legend: Supported National Service      Opposed National Service    N/A No Action
103rd
Congress
104th
Congress
105th
Congress
108th
Congress
109th
Congress
National Service
Trsut Act of
1993 (HR
2010-passed)
Senate VA-HUD Approps.
Amndmnt. to
restore fun-
ding for nat'l
service programs.
Sponsor: Mikulski (S.Amdt. 2781-
failed)
Senate VA-HUD
Approps.
Amdtmnt. to reduce funding for
AmeriCorps
Sponsor: Sessions
(SAmdt 3206-
tabled)
Sent letter of
support to
White House
calling for
Emerg. Supp.
funding for
AmeriCorps
programs
SENATE Suppl.
Approps.
Amndmnt to
strike $100M
in emerg.
funding for
AC from bill
Sponsor:
Sessions
(S.Amdt 1202-
tabled)
Sent letters of
support to CNCS expres-
ing concerns
with AC and Learn & Serve Rule-
making
Sent letter in support of FY07 funding for
NCCC
FY07 Emergency Supplemental
Amdt. to trans-
fer $20M for
the NCCC Gulf
effort to support Dep't of VA for Medical Facilities. Sponsor: Thune
(S.Amdt. 3704/ H.R. 3939-
defeated)
Not Voting N/A

* Derived from proposed legislation in 107th and 108th Congresses

Who is he? A first-term junior Senator from Illinois, Senator Barack Obama burst onto the national scene after a rousing and inspiring speech during the ‘04 Democratic National Convention. Obama is primed to make a serious run for the ‘08 Democratic nomination and the White House. A graduate of Harvard Law, Obama was the first African-American editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

Illinois Sen Barack Obama

National Service Agenda? Obama's national service agenda focuses its energy (no pun intended) around the engagement of under-resourced youth in energy-efficiency and environmental issues that will yield practical lessons to be integrated into the communities in which they reside. It is worth noting that Obama's national service agenda appears to lack the substantive vision of Dodd and Clinton.

Why take his national service agenda seriously?  With an infectious message that is creating title waves of optimism across America, Obama has clearly captured the imagination of the American public, and has everyone listening.  His voting record on national service issues and participation in national service events speaks to his commitment to national service.  Also, with a fundraising effort that is outpacing Hillary Clinton, his ability to persaude people into action is not in question. However,  in order for his national service agenda to be elevated to a truly serious level, Obama (much like Edwards) should present a formal national service plan that declares his intentions for expanding national service in this country.

National Service Track Record in Congress? Obama's brief stint in Congress has indicated solid support for national service. During the one critical vote dealing with national service in the 109thCongress (S. Amndt. 3704), Obama sided with AmeriCorps, and his optional participation in national service events speaks to his support of national service.  Obama's Congressional voting and participation record on national service issues are chronicled below.
 
Legend: Supported National Service      Opposed National Service    N/A No Action
109th Congress
Participated in National Service
Hill Day Events in 2005-2006
Sent letter in support of
FY07 funding for NCCC
FY07 Emergency Supplemental
Amdt. to transfer $20M for
NCCC efforts in Gulf Region
to support Dept. of Veterans
Affairs for Medical Facilities
Sponsor: Thune (S.Amdt.
3704/H.R. 4939-defeated)

Who is he? The former governor of Massachusetts, considered by most to be the leading contender to win the Republican nomination for the 2008 Presidential election. Articulate and well respected among Republicans, Romney declared his candidacy in Febrary 2007 and is primed to make a serious run at the White House in 2008.
 
Mitt RomneyNational Service Agenda? Romney has yet to unveil his agenda on national service, but has committed to discussing his views at a later time. But until Romney officially announces his views on national service, there is not enough information to present his position on national service. In other words, AmeriCorps Alums will not speculate as to what his position will be.

Why take his National Service agenda seriously? Until he presents a national service plan, it will be difficult for Romney to be viewed as a supporter of national service. At this point, the clock is ticking. 
 
National Service Track Record in Congress? N/A
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