3:19 PM EDT
George Miller, D-CA 7th

Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 5563, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, the first reauthorization of the national and community service laws and program since 1993.

The legislation we are considering today includes all of the amendments approved last week by voice vote. It also includes the provision on background checks from the Republican motion to recommit. This bill is a bipartisan product.

Through volunteer and community service programs, tens of millions of Americans of different generations have become inspired to build stronger, more vibrant communities to help children succeed in school and rebuild cities in times of disaster.

In 2006, more than 61 million Americans gave back to their communities through service. The GIVE Act recognizes this growing service movement that is taking place across the Nation. It builds upon the successful work being done by members of AmeriCorps, of Vista, of Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America.

The GIVE Act would put us on a path to increasing the number of AmeriCorps members from 75,000 to 100,000 by 2012, with a focus on engaging low-income, disadvantaged, and at-risk young people.

The GIVE Act would also help AmeriCorps members pay for college by increasing the scholarship they earn in exchange for their service from $4,725 to $5,255 by 2012.

This bill would introduce young people to community service by creating a new Summer of Service initiative that will offer middle school and high school students the opportunity to spend a summer working to improve the communities while earning $500 toward college or college preparation.

Alumni of service programs remain a valuable resource to our communities. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast communities, AmeriCorps alumni played a key role in relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts on the gulf coast. [Page: H1495]

To help tap into these resources in times of emergency, this bill would create an Alumni Reserve Corps to service alumni with previous disaster relief experience.

Each year, nearly a half a million older Americans participate in the Senior Corps programs, mentoring children of prisoners, providing independent living services to seniors, assisting victims of natural disaster, and mobilizing other volunteers.

The GIVE Act would expand the purpose of the Senior Corps programs by adding an emphasis on recruiting retired science, technology, health care, law enforcement, and military professionals to help with education, after-school, public safety, and technology needs.

I want to thank the many Members on both sides of the aisle who have worked on this bill, in particular, Representative McCarthy on our side of the aisle, Representative McKeon and Mr. Platts on the other side, who is handling the bill today for their leadership, as well as the Service Caucus for its support.

Let me also thank the Voices of Service and its member organizations which have been invaluable in helping us develop this legislation.

Service and volunteerism have played an important role in our Nation's history and will continue to help us meet the challenges and the needs of our communities. This legislation reflects the important role and builds upon it.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.