A Question of Eligibility and Appointments: An Updated Proposal for the Presidential Youth Council
Over the last two months, we have taken the Presidential Youth Council policy proposal on a tour of Washington, D.C. In every conversation there was agreement about the importance of including young people in government. However, we were told that if our efforts were to gain traction in Congress, we would need to adjust the proposal to address concerns and gain bipartisan support.
In developing the original proposal, we wanted to guarantee that the Presidential Youth Council members were sufficiently qualified to advise the President and Congress. The process we outlined required applicants to have experience with a federally-funded youth program - either as a volunteer, youth leader or consumer of the department's services - and be nominated by a federal agency. Our intention was two fold. First, we wanted to ensure the Presidential Youth Council members could speak from first-hand experience about the programs and departments they were advising. Second, we wanted to provide an incentivize for departments across the government to increase on-the-ground youth engagement.
But when we talked with supporters and critics alike they told us they were concerned the eligibility requirement would create a council with a members who had biased perspectives of the departments. There was also concern about the ability of the council to remain bipartisan when the sitting President would be responsibile for appointing all the members of the council.
The validity of these concerns prompted us to adjust the selection process and eligibility requirements to the following:
- The President and congressional leadership will have shared powers to appoint the members of the Presidential Youth Council.
The Council will be comprised of 24 members who are appointed by the leadership of both parties. The President and the majority and minority leadership in both the House and the Senate will each appoint four members to the Presidential Youth Council. The congressional leadership of the party that does not control the Presidency will each have two additional appointments. The non-partisan board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service will appoint two co-chairs from the selected group as well as an executive director.
- Every young American will be eligible to serve on the Presidential Youth Council, not just those who have participated in a federally funded program. But, at the same time, we want to ensure the members have some experience with public policy issues and maintain the incentivize for departments to support youth participation in government.
Members will be nominated by any local, state, congressional, or non-governmental youth council with a public policy-related mission, however each youth council in consultation with their sponsoring official or organization may only nominate one young person to serve on the Presidential Youth Council.
We think these changes, modest though they are, contribute to the overall strength of the proposal. We hope they will result in greater bipartisan support and a quick adoption and implementation process.
Thank you to all of those who took the time to sit down with us and think through our model and help us improve it. Click here to read the full proposal and, as always, your feedback and/or questions on either of these modifications is welcome. Sign up to get involved with the campaign at www.presidentialyouthcouncil.org.
Alex Wirth is the Chair of the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council and a sophmore at Harvard University.