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House Passes Bill To Expand Service

(AP)
The House voted today to expand the AmeriCorps program and create new national service programs centered on education, energy, health and veterans, the Associated Press reports.

The legislation mandates slots for 175,000 more participants in such programs. It passed by a vote of 321-105, with dissenters saying the government is choosing to pay for work that would already be done for free by volunteers.

President Obama, who backs the bill, has pushed expanded service as a way for America to set through the current recession. It would cost $6 billion over the course of five years.

A Senate committee passed a similar bill Wednesday; that version added 175,000 positions just to AmeriCorps. The AP reports the bill could be taken up by the full Senate next week.

AmeriCorps volunteers, who largely work for groups like Habitat For Humanity, now receive stipends for their work of between $11,000 and $23,000 for a year, with most receiving something closer to the lower end of that range. They are also eligible for an education grant upon completing the program, which the House bill would expand to $5,350.

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