Senate candidate from Texas wants to make year of 'service to country' mandatory

Beto O'Rourke: 'No kid is going to be rich enough to buy their way out of it'

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

CORSICANA, Texas - UPDATE 1/8/17: Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke is backtracking from remarks he made regarding mandatory national service. MORE:  'I made a mistake': Senate candidate from Texas backs down from mandatory service idea

ORIGINAL STORY:

Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke hopes to introduce a bill to Congress this year that would require all young people to spend at least a year "in service to this country."

O'Rourke, who currently represents the 16th District of Texas, which includes El Paso, held a town hall in Corsicana on Thursday and shared his idea with those in attendance. 

O'Rourke's idea would require "every young person," regardless of their socioeconomic background, to serve their country in some way whether that be in military service, a medical unit, a teaching unit etc.

The Texas congressman said he has been searching for bipartisan support on his bill and may have found a Republican colleague to help him introduce the bill as early as this year.

One last idea on this — and I'm trying to find a republican colleague — I may have one and I hope to announce it soon — it will help me introduce this into the Congress this year, and that is a national service bill that would require every young person, no matter how wealthy or how poor, to spend at least a year of their lives in service to this country; in a military unit, conservation core unit, in a medical unit, in a teaching unit — in some way that they're going to help make this country better and stronger and have to sacrifice together and leave that with a shared understanding of who we are as a people. And no kid is going to be rich enough to buy their way out of it.

O'Rourke's idea was interrupted by applause from those who gathered to hear him speak.

O'Rourke's ideas are explored in HR 3140, a bill introduced to the House in June that he cosponsored.

HR 3140, titled "ACTION for National Service Act," would give those who complete a "term of full-time national service" an award "equal to twice the amount of tuition for the institution of higher education where the individual is enrolled, not to exceed twice the average in-state tuition."

Those who complete the year of service will be eligible for "tuition and student loan repayment assistance" and "federal hiring preference to certain volunteer program participants," according to a summary of the bill.

Late last year, O'Rourke officially threw his name into the hat for consideration for the U.S. Senate.

After U.S. Democratic candidate Doug Jones won a seat in the Senate in the predominantly Republican state of Alabama, many speculated the same could happen in Texas.

Shortly after Jones' victory was announced, San Antonio native and former HUD secretary Julián Castro tweeted, "Be afraid, @tedcruz . Be very afraid."

O'Rourke is vying for the seat currently held by Ted Cruz. 

Watch the full town hall:

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