NMI represented as Obama signs Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
Thursday, 23 April 2009 00:00
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — Gregorio C. Sablan joined a select group of members of Congress at a public charter school in southeast Washington today to witness President Obama sign into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
The new law is the most far-reaching expansion of opportunities for national service in almost a generation.
Sablan was an original co-sponsor of the bill and spoke in support of it during debate on the House floor.
The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act was brought to life through a collaboration between the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees on Education and Labor, of which Sablan is a member.
The Act has been hailed as landmark legislation that will not only encourage a new generation of Americans to engage in public service, but will also create positions that will help to simulate the economy and provide benefits to those in need.
“Throughout his campaign and the first months of his administration, President Obama has encouraged Americans to engage in service to their own communities and to the nation,” said Sablan. “I am so proud to have been able to add the support of the people of the Northern Mariana Islands to the president’s call for service.
“One only need look at the tremendous turnout for this weekend’s islandwide cleanup to see that the people of the Northern Marianas are willing give of themselves in order to make their community better. That is the spirit that the Serve America Act seeks to encourage throughout our nation.”
Serve America expands the number of service-oriented jobs funded by the federal government from 75,000 to 250,000.
It also creates several new service groups, including a Clean Energy Corps, an Education Corps, a Healthy Futures Corps, and a Veterans Service Corps.
New opportunities will be available for senior citizens, as well as for disadvantaged and foster youth and for those with disabilities.
These volunteer positions benefit participants not only with work experience, new professional relationships, and valuable job skills, but also by giving them money for college.
Also attending the event was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy himself, whose voice was strong, though his hands trembled on the podium.
Kennedy, D-Mass., is battling a brain tumor.
He was joined by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Ut., Rep. George Miller, D-Ca., Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Other members of the audience were first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Rosalind Carter, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“As an original cosponsor of this legislation,” said Sablan, “I am thrilled to see it signed into law by a president who believes so strongly in the cause of service. This new law will provide an opportunity for all Americans — and that includes us in the Northern Marianas — to participate in activities that will strengthen our communities and provide benefits to our citizens. I encourage everyone to take part in community and national service and I congratulate my fellow members of Congress and President Obama on completing this wonderful piece of legislation.”