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Moulton roll outs proposal for revamped national service program

In a proposal fashioned after the GI Bill, Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts will announce a five-point plan for encouraging national service on Sunday during a two-state swing through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, CBS News has learned.

Aimed at recruiting young Americans into a national service program, the proposal would provide educational or vocational scholarships in exchange for a service commitment of one to three years by Americans between the ages of 17 and 24. Specifically, Moulton's plan would cover 60 percent of the cost of in-state college tuition or job-training up to $14,000 for a one-year commitment of national service. That benefit would increase on a sliding scale, covering full in-state tuition or $24,000 in training for a three year commitment from enrollees.

"I want every American to have an opportunity to serve like I did," said Moulton, a former Marine Corps captain who served four tours of duty in Iraq. Now in his third term, the Massachusetts native said in a statement he hopes to give young Americans "a chance to confront the challenges our country faces today, be a part of something bigger than themselves, and earn a promise that they will be rewarded for their efforts."

Under the proposed national service program, enrollees may sign onto an expanded AmeriCorps, FEMA Corps, AmeriCorps VISTA or join a new service organization, dubbed the "Federal Green Corps." Touching on the traditions of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps and President John F. Kennedy's Peace Corps initiative, the division would be overseen by a newly established cabinet secretary position responsible for an expanded National and Community Service Administration. According to the Moulton campaign, those enlisted in the Federal Green Corps would work on projects to ensure access to clean air and water, retrofit public buildings for greater energy-efficiency and respond to national disasters, among other duties.

The proposal does not estimate how much it would cost to implement.

The 40-year-old Harvard graduate will formally announce his national service education guarantee at stops in southeastern New Hampshire, including meet and greets with local Democratic Party members and a veterans roundtable in Londonderry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans in New Hampshire make up over 9 percent of the adult population.

Bolstered by mandatory conscription, more than 16 million Americans served in the U.S. military during World War II at a time when all men between the ages of 21 and 45 were required to register for the draft. While Moulton's plan is voluntary, it targets 33.4 million Americans — men and women between the ages of 17 and 24.

Last month, fellow presidential contender John Delaney, a former congressman from Maryland, announced efforts to create a similar national service program for young people, complete with a "Climate Corps" initiative also aimed at boosting conservation and sustainability across the U.S.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg floated the idea on MSNBC last month, saying he wanted "to talk about the threat to social cohesion that helps characterize this presidency but also just this era." The Indiana mayor added: "One thing we could do that would change that would be to make it, if not legally obligatory, but certainly a social norm that anybody after they're 18 spends a year in national service."

Moulton announced his candidacy amid a crowded field on April 22 in an interview on "Good Morning America." The congressman, who garnered attention for attempting to supplant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following the 2018 elections, has yet to qualify for the first Democratic debate. Candidates aspiring to participate in the first debate must reach 1 percent in three polls or receive donations from 65,000 donors by June 12.