WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“What has angered so many people about this recession is the perception that its causes are not simply material, but moral. Ask most Americans what got us to this point, and I doubt the first words they’ll reach for will be ‘credit default swaps,’ or ‘troubled assets,’ or ‘overleveraging.’ They’ll turn to older ideas: greed; recklessness; self-dealing. And it follows that our recovery will not be whole if it only encompasses renewed balance sheets or consumer demand—what is also required is a renewed public spirit.
“Government cannot create that spirit; we’d be fools to think it could. But it can recognize it, nourish it, coordinate it, and give it productive outlets. That is exactly what this bill does. We are blessed with a young generation remarkably committed to public service—and this bill gives them the outlets and the opportunities to contribute to our recovery.
“Among its most important provisions, this bill triples the number of AmeriCorps volunteers to a quarter-million; strengthens the bond between service and education by helping volunteers pay for college; focuses volunteers’ efforts on our most pressing needs, including rebuilding our infrastructure and retooling our economy for clean energy; and expands opportunities for volunteers of all ages, from middle schoolers to Baby Boomers. In all, this bill represents the greatest expansion in national service since the days of John F. Kennedy.
“These new ranks of volunteers will be making tangible contributions that benefit all of us. According to House testimony from Time magazine’s managing editor, Richard Stengel: ‘61 million Americans volunteered in their communities in 2007, giving more than 8 billion hours of service worth more than $158 billion to America's communities….A cost-benefit analysis of AmeriCorps programs has concluded that every $1 in investment results in $1.50 to $3.90 of direct measurable benefits to the community: children tutored, playgrounds built, homeless people fed.’
“Those are the material rewards of this bill—but I think we all know that the rewards we can’t measure are far greater. They are the virtues of community and self-sacrifice, of responsibility and teamwork. And our recovery will be incomplete until those virtues have been recovered.”