Senators Coons (DE), Jack Reed (RI), Martin Heinrich (NM), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Dick Durbin (IL), Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Ed Markey (MA) have introduced, S. 3624 the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act to dramatically expand national service in response to the coronavirus pandemic. H.R. 6702, a House companion bill has been introduced by Representative David Price, Doris Matsui, Chrissy Houlahan, Ami Bera, and Kim Schrier. Below are links to a short summary, one-pager, and press release describing the bill in detail.
The legislation would do the following:
- Fund 750,000 national service positions over a three-year response and recovery period;
- Create a partnership between AmeriCorps and CDC inspired by FEMA Corps to provide for
additional response surge capacity that could be deployed to specific areas as needed;
- Provide flexibilities for programs quickly to grow and respond to dynamic local recovery needs;
- Prioritize funding for activities directly related to our response and recovery, such as:
- Public health services,
- Emergency logistics,
- Workforce and reemployment services,
- Education support (including for adult learners), and
- Services that combat nutrition insecurity
- Ensure that individuals’ financial resources do not limit participation by increasing the AmeriCorps living allowance to 175 percent of the federal poverty line and tying the value of the Segal Education Award to the cost of two years of public university tuition, harmonizing the treatment of both with other programs by making them nontaxable;
- Fund new online tools for Senior Corps to safely move to a teleservice model;
- Extend priority enrollment to Peace Corps, U.S. Fulbright, and AmeriCorps participants whose service or grants was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and encourage participation by members of low-income and minority communities, those who have had contact with the juvenile justice system, and those of diverse abilities; and
- Invite participation by a diverse range of Americans by launching an awareness and outreach campaign on response service opportunities and supporting the Volunteer Generation Fund.