Obama's Volunteerism Bill

April 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Today is earth day and President Obama will mark the occasion by promoting clean energy innovation. His administration has pledged environmental reform. He even included an environmental theme when he signed a new volunteerism bill into law. On the 39th anniversary of Earth Day, President Barack Obama heads to Iowa where he grabbed his first victory in the battle for the presidency. The White House said President Obama will highlight Iowa's role as a leader in wind energy production as he discusses his comprehensive energy plan. The president will tour a former Maytag plant in Newton, Iowa that now builds towers for wind turbines.

"We're kicking off the summer in Newton with the President of the United States showing up," said Chaz Allen Mayor of Newton Iowa.

But, Tuesday, the president started the earth day party early when he dug in and planted a tree in Washington after signing into law a measure designed to bolster national community service. "I ask every American to make an enduring commitment to serving your community and your country in whatever way you can."

The law will more than triple the size of the AmeriCorps program, and boost federal funding for thousands of volunteers in fields ranging from education, health care and clean energy. The "Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act" is named for Senator Kennedy's sponsorship of the bill. "You have inspired a new generation of Americans and your own example and your own call recognizes that," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) Massachusetts.

The measure is not without criticism. It's expected to cost roughly $6-billion dollars over the next five years. Some say that's fiscally irresponsible in these tough economic times.

The law creates four new national service corps, and other initiatives including a "summer of service" program for middle and high-school students.

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