Beginning to deal with some of its most difficult budget decisions, the Senate narrowly turned back an attempt Tuesday to keep President Clinton’s National Service program alive and voted to continue building an orbiting space station.
The votes came as the Senate neared final action on legislation paying for operations next year of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, and several other agencies. The final vote is expected today.
The Senate action Tuesday appeared to be the last chance to keep the National Service program alive. Clinton had sought $819 million for the year-old plan for the fiscal year beginning Sunday, nearly doubling current funding.
Instead, the House voted in July to shut it down, giving it no money for 1996 and the Senate Appropriations Committee also voted against funding the program.
AmeriCorps now sends young volunteers into inner cities and rural areas to serve child care and senior citizens’ centers and environmental programs in exchange for modest living expenses and assistance in paying future college tuition.
But critics complained that it also was being used to staff government agencies rather than to perform community service work.
The space station survived easily. The Senate measure would provide $2.1 billion for the space lab.