Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, who has been churning out one policy proposal after another, plans to issue his latest position paper on Wednesday, calling for a major expansion of national service opportunities.
The former Maryland governor will propose doubling the size of both the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps as part of a plan to make national service “a cornerstone of American citizenship.”
“National service should be part of what it means to be an American citizen,” says O’Malley’s position paper on the issue, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post. “Our country faces great challenges -- from economic inequality to education to climate change -- and we need the talents and efforts of every citizen to overcome them and make our nation stronger.”
O’Malley, who has been struggling to gain traction in a Democratic field that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), will also propose creating a new Federal Service Corps, which would provide opportunities to assist federal agencies in their work. He cites a recently launched initiative by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as an example of what other agencies could replicate.
The position paper also calls for making national service part of the college experience and for trying to steer those turned away from military service because of health issues or other disqualifications into national service.
Aides said the expansions of the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps would cost about $4.5 billion a year once its fully implemented.
O’Malley plans to promote his proposals Friday during a swing through New Hampshire, the nation’s first presidential primary state.
O’Malley’s plan comes at a time when congressional funding has not kept pace with the demand for national service opportunities.
His position paper says he would push to fully fund the 250,000 positions that were authorized by Congress in 2009 for AmeriCorps, which steers members into positions in nonprofit organizations, schools, public agencies and community groups across the country. O’Malley would then double the number of authorized the positions to 500,000 by 2024, his plans says.
He is also pledging to double the size of the Peace Corps, which currently sends about 7,000 volunteers abroad each year to fulfill the agency’s mission of promoting “world peace and friendship.”
Aides said the issue of national service has a personal component for O’Malley, One of his daughters, Grace, 24, is a Teach for America alum currently working as a teacher in the Baltimore public schools.