GOP House Whip Opposes Increase in AmeriCorps

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) opposes a White House-backed effort to increase funding for Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps program by adding $100 million to a $1.89-billion supplemental spending bill now before Congress.

“AmeriCorps funding was not in the request for the disaster aid supplemental and it certainly is not something I have supported before or would support in the conference,” Blunt told HUMAN EVENTS.

AmeriCorps uses federal tax dollars to pay people to “volunteer.”

Although the Senate recently voted to put $100 million in the supplemental spending bill to add 25,000 more AmeriCorps “volunteers,” Blunt is not the only House Republican balking at the new spending. Some cite mismanagement in the program, which overspent its budget by $22 million last year. “We should not be rewarding them for their failures,” Rep. James Walsh (R.-N.Y.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees AmeriCorps, told the Washington Post.

Responding to a question from HUMAN EVENTS,White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the President “is strongly committed to AmeriCorps because he deeply believes in the important role it plays.” He pointed out that Bush is now “requesting expansion of it to 75,000 volunteers [up from the present 50,000].”

But the White House support may not sway House conservatives.

“This is Clinton’s program, for goodness sake!” said Rep. Walter Jones (R.-N.C.). “We definitely don’t need to be spending money on [AmeriCorps] because we need to cut and not expand spending.”

“Just the very idea of paid volunteers is an insult to people who genuinely volunteer their time for good causes,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R.-Fla.) Miller said he would vote to defund the program if given the opportunity.