Sharing the Stage with Obama: Kennedy and Bill Clinton
Updated 4:19 p.m.
By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama traveled to the SEED School of Washington this afternoon to sign a $5.7 billion national service bill that should allow the AmeriCorps program to nearly quadruple in size over the next eight years.
Joining Obama onstage as he signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act at the public boarding school in Southeast were former president Bill Clinton, who initiated the AmeriCorps program, as well a tough campaign-season critic of the former president, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), after whom the bill is named.
Others at the ceremony included Vice President Biden, first lady Michelle Obama and Rosalynn Carter, the wife of former president Jimmy Carter.
Congress passed the bill, which was co-sponsored by Kennedy and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), with large bipartisan margins last month. Obama is seeking $1.1 billion to fund it next year.
The money will go to expanding the reach of the Corporation for Community and National Service, which oversees AmeriCorps and a several other programs, including SeniorCorps, and Learn and Serve America.
The bill would increase the size of AmeriCorps to 250,000 by 2017. Currently, the program has 75,000 enrollees.
The measure will bolster the infrastructure that supports volunteerism at a time when many charities and other non-profit groups are struggling for support as a result of the economic downturn.
Posted at 12:41 PM ET on Apr 21, 2009
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