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Congress appears ready to pass an Obama administration plan that could create mandatory public service requirements for all American youth, fulfilling a campaign promise.
The bill, HR 1388: The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, otherwise known as the “GIVE Act,” has already passed the House by a vote of 321-105.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted closure on the motion to proceed by a margin of 74-14 in a move that makes its ultimate passage likely.
The bill, promoted by the Obama administration as a means of encouraging America’s youth to participate in voluntary community service, has received little scrutiny from Congress or the public.
Yet, a version of the bill in the House proposes to establish a Congressional Commission on Civil Service tasked with determining whether a mandatory service requirement for all young people in America could be developed and implemented, though it is not clear that provision will survive a conference committee.
Moreover, an amendment to the bill introduced by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., one of the bill’s 37 co-sponsors in the House, appears to severely restrict the First Amendment by prohibiting the youth participating in the program from attempting to influence legislation, organize or engage in protests, petitions, boycotts or strikes.
Funds under the bill are designated to be distributed through AmeriCorps, even though AmeriCorps volunteers have a history of being recruited and employed by community programs with an ideological purpose supported by Democratic Party politicians, including Planned Parenthood.
Under terms of the legislation, volunteers recruited into AmeriCorps through the GIVE Act could end up counseling Planned Parenthood clients to recommend and arrange abortions.
It is uncertain whether restrictions will survive into the final legislation that would prohibit GIVE Act participants from being recruited under the program to work in ACORN, a radical community organizing group facing criminal charges in several states for voter fraud.
“The purpose of the bill is to require mandatory community service for all young people in the United States,” Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, told WND in a telephone interview.
“The mobilization of the youth to put them into community work environments that are specified in the bill raises questions about who will be teaching the youth and what is deemed appropriate community service,” he said.
“It’s great young people should do community service, but to have mandatory government-run community service projects may be a different thing,” Poe stressed, explaining why he voted against the bill. “It’s better if we can encourage young people to volunteer, and when you require something of them you are certainly not volunteering, and to place them only in government-controlled programs concerns me.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who also voted against the GIVE Act, expressed to WND his reservations.
“I opposed the bill because it would expand and authorize programs that have been audited and considered ineffective by the Office of Management and Budget, which does not align with the administration’s stated plans of encouraging transparency and accountability in all federal programs.”
WND telephoned the office of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., the bill’s sponsor in the House, to ask for comment on this story, but did not receive an immediate response.
Larry Hart, director of government relations for the American Conservative Union, said the history of the program goes back to the VISTA program under the Carter administration.
The problem is that taxpayer funds under the GIVE Act could end up getting paid to volunteers in organizations that are doing political advocacy activity,” Hart said.
“Whether the safeguards in the GIVE Act that are sufficiently strong to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for political advocacy remains to be seen, until the Senate passes a final bill and the House-Senate conference committee gets together on final language,” he said.
According to Fox News, the legislation could cost up to $6 billion over five years and would create 175,000 “new service opportunities” under AmeriCorps.
WND previously reported that the GIVE Act may be the first step taken by the Obama administration to create what candidate Obama called his “National Civilian Security Force” in a speech last year in which he urged creating an organization as big and well-funded as the U.S. military.
WND also reported when a copy of the speech provided online apparently was edited to exclude Obama’s specific references to the new force.
Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel coauthored a 2006 book entitled “The Plan: Big Ideas for America’ that called for three months of compulsory civil service for all Americans aged 18 to 25.
The Obama/Biden campaign website proclaims that “Obama and Biden will expand AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps with “a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year, and will establish a new tax credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.”
After completing college at Columbia University, Obama in 1983 became a community organizer in the Chicago-based Developing Communities Project, an organization that operated according to principles articulated by Saul Alinsky, whose 1971 book “Rules for Radicals” articulated a socialist strategy for gaining political power to redistribute wealth from the “haves” to the “have-nots.”
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