July 18, 2003 - Chicago Sun-Times: RPCV James Walsh has reservations about Americorps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 18, 2003 - Chicago Sun-Times: RPCV James Walsh has reservations about Americorps

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 8:53 am: Edit Post

RPCV James Walsh has reservations about Americorps





Read and comment on this story from the Chicago Sun-Times that the drive to secure emergency extra funding for the AmeriCorps national service program, approved by the Senate, is not supported at this point by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and faces an uphill battle in the House because Hastert and an influential lawmaker, RPCV Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.), continue to have reservations about AmeriCorps' management. Rep. Jim Walsh, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls AmeriCorps' budget, said he opposed giving an extra $100M to Americorps because of the agency's "poor management and weak financial oversight."

Meanwhile, at least 11 of the 19 Illinois House members--seven Democrats and four Republicans--have signed letters urging President Bush to step in and push Congress to send more money to AmeriCorps. Read the story at:


Hastert has reservations about helping out AmeriCorps*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Hastert has reservations about helping out AmeriCorps

July 18, 2003

BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief


WASHINGTON--A drive to secure emergency extra funding for the AmeriCorps national service program, approved by the Senate, is not supported at this point by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and faces an uphill battle in the House.

The Senate earlier this month agreed to send $100 million to the agency to supplement spending already approved for the 2003 fiscal year ending Sept. 30. But Hastert and an influential lawmaker, Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.), continue to have reservations about AmeriCorps' management.

Meanwhile, at least 11 of the 19 Illinois House members--seven Democrats and four Republicans--have signed letters urging President Bush to step in and push Congress to send more money to AmeriCorps.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) backed the extra AmeriCorps spending and joined his Illinois House colleagues in writing Bush, while Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) voted against it because, he said, "it was going too far in asking for it as an emergency supplemental."

Hastert "likes the AmeriCorps program," said John Feehery, his spokesman, but is reluctant to support more funding at this time because there has been "a lot of mismanagement in the program."

AmeriCorps was created by the Clinton administration in 1993. It workers toil in nonprofit, community and social service programs either full- or part-time. AmeriCorps workers get up to $9,600 for a living allowance, a $4,725 credit to pay university tuition or loans plus health insurance.

It is not likely that the House will match the Senate on AmeriCorps spending or add much without intercession from the White House. Bush, who called for AmeriCorps expansion in his State of the Union address, did not ask Congress for more AmeriCorps funding in the fiscal 2003 supplemental appropriation he sent to Congress.

But Bush's fiscal 2004 budget request before Congress asks for about a $100 million increase in the program. In fiscal 2003, Congress approved $326 million; Walsh, a former Peace Corps volunteer, supports a boost to $368.4 million with stricter accounting safeguards.

In the wake of AmeriCorps mismanagement, the White House on July 11 announced a new leadership team. Earlier in the month, Bush signed "Strengthen AmeriCorps" legislation in order to install new accounting safeguards.

AmeriCorps created its own problems because, "We appropriated more positions than we had funding for," said agency spokesman Sandy Scott. "We made a mistake. We discovered it. We told Congress. And it won't happen again."

Congress capped AmeriCorps slots at 50,000 full-time equivalents; in fiscal 2002 the agency approved grants for 70,000 new slots. Nationally, without an extra appropriation there will be about 30,000 spots in fiscal 2003.

Feehery said Hastert will back whatever is recommended by Walsh, the chairman of the House appropriation subcommittee that oversees AmeriCorps spending. Walsh is dead set against giving AmeriCorps more money for this fiscal year.

In Illinois, budget cuts reduced AmeriCorps funding from about $8 million to $3 million. That translated to shrinking 630 full-time equivalent job slots in Illinois to 271 spots, said Bob Dwyer, the chairman of the Illinois Commission on Volunteers and Community Service.
Walsh opposes support because of the agency's "poor management and weak financial oversight."



Read and comment on this story from the Star Tribune that Rep. Jim Walsh, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls AmeriCorps' budget, said Thursday he opposed giving an extra $100M to Americorps because of the agency's "poor management and weak financial oversight" at:

Senate votes to give AmeriCorps $100 million more

Senate votes to give AmeriCorps $100 million more

Alan Fram, Associated Press

Published July 12, 2003

CONG12

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Senate voted 71-21 on Friday to give an extra $100 million this year to AmeriCorps, signaling strong bipartisan support for the government's financially troubled volunteer service program.

The vote defeated an attempt by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to strip the money from a spending bill. Advocates of AmeriCorps say that without the extra funds, the program would have to leave unfilled as many as 20,000 of its planned 50,000 volunteer slots.

AmeriCorps has struggled with severe cash problems since last year, when it enrolled 20,000 more volunteers than it could afford. That sparked withering bipartisan criticism in Congress for mismanagement and inefficiency.

The fate of the extra money is in doubt. Rep. Jim Walsh, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls AmeriCorps' budget, said Thursday he opposed it because of the agency's "poor management and weak financial oversight."

AmeriCorps volunteers tutor children, repair houses and perform other work with nonprofit organizations. Each receives a $9,300 stipend for service to the corps and is eligible for a $4,725 college grant afterward. A volunteer serves up to a year. The volunteer program already has received $275 million for the current federal budget year.

Meanwhile, Leslie Lenkowsky, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps and other federal volunteer agencies, announced his resignation. As his replacement, President Bush intends to name David Eisner, formerly vice president of corporate relations at AOL Time Warner.

In other spending action:

The House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the Transportation and Treasury departments approved an Amtrak budget of $580 million for the 2004 budget year starting Oct. 1.

That compares with $900 million requested by the administration and $1.8 billion that Amtrak says is necessary to maintain existing services.

Amtrak, formed in 1971, services 500 communities in 46 states on its 22,000 miles of track.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve $9.2 billion for military construction projects next year, $1.5 billion below this year's level.

Senate GOP stymies minimum wage drive

Senate Democrats launched a new drive to raise the minimum wage -- $5.15 to $6.65 -- but ran into a roadblock from Republicans, who sidetracked a major foreign operations bill so it could not be used as a vehicle for votes on the wage proposal and other Democratic initiatives.

The minimum wage was last increased in 1997 under a two-step process approved by Congress in 1996.

Washington Post

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