The U.S. Senate Thursday passed national service legislation in the form of the “Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.” The volunteer service bill expands Americorps, creates four more service corps and would increase the educational stipend amount paid to volunteers by a little more than $5300.
South Carolina’s senators did not support the measure which passed 78 to 20.
In his weekly podcast, Senator Jim DeMint defended his stance, saying, “Supporters of the bill–and unfortunately they include large majorities in the House and Senate–argue that Congress should incentivize people to serve their communities. They say this bill is needed because it ‘creates opportunities to serve.’ I’m sorry, but seeing how many folks are out of work and losing their homes because of bad government policies, I think Congress has created quite enough ‘opportunities to serve’ for one year.”
DeMint says that the bill defies the principle of donating something and expecting nothing in return.
“The basic premise of the bill is that since volunteerism is good, it should be rewarded by government, with money or college credit.But that premise is fatally flawed, both morally and politically. First of all, paying people to volunteer corrupts the very idea of volunteerism in the first place,” says DeMint.”
Introduced to the Senate by Utah Republican Orin Hatch, the bill passed the higher chamber with bipartisan support. The AARP Friday applauded this stage of passage as a “key vote” for older Americans.