Sunday, November 29, 2009

AmeriCorps update

As an addendum to the previous post about AmeriCorps, the March 2009 House bill to massively increase the size of AmeriCorps (HR 1388) sought to restrict members from many basic aspects of religious activity:

(Sec. 125 Prohibited Activities and Ineligible Organizations)

'(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.

(b) Ineligible Organizations- No assistance provided under this subtitle may be provided to the following types of organizations (including the participation of a participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle in activities conducted by such organizations) or to organizations that are co-located on the same premises as the following organizations:

'(1) Organizations that provide or promote abortion services, including referral for such services.

'(2) For-profit organizations, political parties, labor organizations, or organizations engaged in political or legislative advocacy.

'(3) Organizations that have been indicted for voter fraud.
This wording was not present in the original bill, but was added in an amendment sponsored by ____ and supported in a __ to __ vote. 

Here are the proceedings that led up to its adoption:

3/18/2009 4:32pm:
H.AMDT.49 Amendment (A012) offered by Mr. Miller, George. (consideration: CR H3607; text: CR H3607)
See item 237 for explanation.
3/18/2009 4:32pm:
H.AMDT.49 On agreeing to the Miller, George amendment (A012) Agreed to by voice vote.
3/18/2009 4:39pm:
On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 321 - 105 (Roll no. 140).
3/18/2009 4:39pm:
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
3/18/2009 4:40pm:
The Clerk was authorized to correct section numbers, punctuation, and cross references, and to make other necessary technical and conforming corrections in the engrossment of H.R. 1388.
Received in the Senate. Read twice. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 35.
There was no discussion of the amendment.  Had the legislators even read it?  The same minute that he advanced his amendment, it passed.  Within seven minutes of his putting forward the amendment, it was added to the bill and the bill passed.  Sick.

(Note that, and do not list the full text of this amendment).  This prohibition passed the House, but mercifully was not included in the Senate version.  The final version of the bill, which became law reads:

"(Sec. 1310) Prohibits the use of AmeriCorps positions for specified activities, including:
(1) attempting to influence legislation;
(2) engaging in protests, partisan political activities, or religious instruction;
(3) assisting or deterring union organizing;
(4) providing abortion services or referrals; or
(5) conducting voter registration drives. Prohibits the provision of AmeriCorps assistance to any organization that has violated a federal criminal statute. Prohibits participants in approved national service positions from displacing employed workers or other volunteers."

Note that religious observances are not restricted, and that abortion services or referrals are still prohibited!  Wow!  Does this mean that next year's City Year report won't list Planned Parenthood, and that ties with ACORN will be permanently severed?  It must, if they hold to the law.

My question is, will the people vote out those legislators who support a bill that deliberately and arrogantly shreds the first amendment of the Constitution?

"Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

(For future reference, the website allows users to track a given bill during its tumultuous life inside congress.  It also allows you to view different versions of the bill, from its first introduction, to its final version, if it makes it that far.  You can highlight changes in green to see what changed between versions. takes it a step further and allows you to see the text of all proposed amendments, along with their sponsors' names.  Another website to check out is  Finally, here's a link to another article about this bill.).

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