Friday, June 20, 2008

Recognizing AmeriCorps - Walberg Votes No

One of the things Congress likes to do is designate weeks for groups of people or things. It's like naming a post office after someone. It's not actually all that important, but it shows that they care, they respect whatever group they're honoring, and maybe, just maybe, it'll increase awareness of some important issue.

For instance, the House of Representatives voted on June 3, 2008, to support National Men's Health Week, and on February 25, 2008, the House passed H. Res. 978, which describes itself as:
Expressing support for the designation of the week of March 3-7, 2008, as "School Social Work Week" to promote awareness of the vital role of school social workers in schools, and in the community as a whole, in helping students prepare for their future as productive citizens.
Congressman Tim Walberg supported both of those, and he also supported National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week and National Engineers Week. My point here is to show that Tim Walberg, in general, has no problem with this sort of thing. If a group is worthy of recognition, he'll vote to give them a week. That's fine.

My problem comes in with a May 14, 2008 bill to recognize AmeriCorps Week. That bill, H. Res. 1173, reads:
110th CONGRESS H. Res. 1173

2d SessionInH. RES. 1173Recognizing AmeriCorps Week.IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESMay 5, 2008Ms. MATSUI (for herself, Mr. SHAYS, Mr. PLATTS, and Mr. PRICE of North Carolina) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Education and LaborHouse of Representatives, U. S.,

RESOLUTIONMay 14, 2008Recognizing AmeriCorps Week.

Whereas the AmeriCorps national service program, since its inception in 1994, has proven to be a highly effective way to engage Americans in meeting a wide range of local needs, national response directives, and promote the ethic of service and volunteering;

Whereas over $5,000,000,000 in AmeriCorps funds invested in nonprofit, community, educational, and faith-based community groups since 1994 have leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funds and in-kind donations from other sources;

Whereas each year, AmeriCorps provides opportunities for 75,000 citizens across the Nation to give back in an intensive way to our districts, our States, and our Nation;

Whereas a total of 542,000 citizens since 1994 across the Nation haven taken the AmeriCorps pledge to `get things done for America' by becoming AmeriCorps members;

Whereas those same individuals have served a total of more than 705,000,000 hours nationwide, helping to improve the lives of our Nation's most vulnerable citizens, protect our environment, contribute to our public safety, respond to disasters, and strengthen our educational system;

Whereas AmeriCorps members last year recruited and supervised more than 1,700,000 community volunteers, demonstrating AmeriCorps value as a powerful volunteer catalyst and force multiplier;

Whereas AmeriCorps members nationwide, in return for their service, have earned nearly $1,430,000,000 to use to further their own educational advancement at our Nation's colleges and universities;

Whereas AmeriCorps members, after their terms of service end, remain engaged in our communities as volunteers, teachers, and nonprofit professional in disproportionately high levels;

Whereas AmeriCorps members served 4,100 nonprofit organizations, schools, and faith-based and community organizations last year; and

Whereas 2008's AmeriCorps Week, observed May 11 through May 18, is an opportune time for the people of the United States to salute current and former AmeriCorps members for their powerful impact, thank all of AmeriCorps' community partners in our Nation who make the program possible and bring more Americans into service: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

      (1) encourages all citizens to join in a national effort to salute AmeriCorps members and alumni, and raise awareness about the importance of national and community service;

      (2) acknowledges the significant accomplishments of the AmeriCorps members, alumni, and community partners;

      (3) recognizes the important contributions to the lives of our citizens by AmeriCorps members; and

      (4) encourages citizens of all ages to consider serving in AmeriCorps.

From where I sit, that's pretty non-controversial. In essence, it says, "Hey, folks who have participated in AmeriCorps generally do good work for their communities. Let's encourage more people to join!"

AmeriCorps was established by President Bill Clinton in 1993, AmeriCorps volunteers work in education, community development, and recently, many have been assisting with relief efforts in flooding in Iowa. It's a program that gives young people a chance to gain experience and skills helping people.

H. Res. 1173, Recognizing AmeriCorps Week, passed by a vote of 344 to 69. In addition to 225 Democrats, 119 Republicans joined in honoring AmeriCorps.

Congressman Tim Walberg voted No.

Congressman Walberg... why?

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