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Mar 27,2009
Senate OKs national service expansion bill
by UPI

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would expand national community service, creating new groups of volunteers for education, energy, healthcare and veterans.

Senators voted 78-20 to pass the measure, named the Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act to honor the Massachusetts Democrat and a key architect of the legislation, The New York Times reported Friday.

The legislation would designate Sept. 11, the day in 2001 that terrorists attacked the United States, as a "National Day of Service and Remembrance," The Daily News newspaper in New York said.

"Sept. 11 should not only be a day for mourning -- it should be a day to think about our neighbors, our community and our country," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

Besides increasing AmeriCorps positions from 75,000 to 250,000, the bill would create four new service corps, costing $6 billion over five years. It also would increase the education stipend volunteers receive to $5,350, the same amount as a Pell grant, the Times said.

"This legislation will help tap the genius of our faith-based and community organizations, and it will find the most innovative ideas for addressing our common challenges and helping those ideas grow," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement.

The measure goes to the House of Representatives, which approved its version last week. Officials said they expected the House to adopt the Senate bill next week and send it to Obama.

Copyright © 2009, by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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