THE White House says it can have President Clinton's National Service program in place by the middle of next year, giving college students the opportunity to begin swapping public service for tuition money.
The Senate voted 57-to-40 Wednesday in favor of a $1.5 billion compromise version of the plan - the Clinton administration's first entirely new program - sending it to the White House for the president's signature. The House had already passed the bill.
Eli Segal, who heads Mr. Clinton's Office of National Service, said he expects the program to be in place by next June and the first participants at their jobs by next September. The law creating the National Service Trust program takes effect Oct. 1.
The legislation fulfilled Clinton's campaign promise to create a domestic version of the Peace Corps, in which young people could serve their communities while earning money to help pay for college. Clinton praised the Senate action as ``yet another opportunity for change for the American people.''
The bill was supported by 51 Democrats and six Republicans; four Democrats and 36 Republicans opposed it.
Republicans, who opposed the program as too costly and too bureaucratic, fought it to the end. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, who guided the bill to passage, accused Republicans of painting an inaccurate picture of the legislation.