March 6, 2008
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia:  Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act. I would like to thank Chairman GEORGE MILLER, Ranking Member MCKEON, Chairwoman MCCARTHY, and Ranking Member PLATTS for their work on this bill.

   H.R. 2857 reauthorizes the national service programs for the first time in over 10 years and contains many positive changes and updates for these programs. During committee consideration of the bill, I added language to make many of these programs more accessible for court-involved youth and adults, including individuals who have previously been incarcerated. I believe that getting these individuals involved in service could be a positive first step to reintegrating these individuals into their communities and giving them an avenue to begin positively participating in society.

   Although I support this bill, I remained concerned about one provision, which requires the recompetition of grants under the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP. During committee consideration of this bill, Congressman HARE and I submitted an amendment that would have given existing RSVP grantees in good standing priority consideration for future grants. Since that time, we have worked with the committee to improve the provision that is in the bill, including giving existing programs technical assistance and additional time to prepare for recompetition. I appreciate this work towards a more fair system.

   However, I believe that existing programs in good standing should be given a stronger priority in the recompetition process, whether that is by only recompeting under-performing programs such as in the Head Start program or by utilizing a prior experience point system such as in the TRIO programs. Through serving their communities for many years and in some cases decades, these existing programs have established strong ties in their communities on which many seniors rely and from which many others benefit. I remain concerned that the language in the base bill will create a recompetition process that will essentially become a grant-writing competition without consideration for current RSVP programs' experience and effectiveness.

   Although I remain concerned about the recompetition process for RSVP programs, I intend to support the bill and urge my colleagues to support it as well.