Expanding programs like AmeriCorps would support critical public health needs, including testing and contact tracing
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are backing legislation to significantly expand national service programs as the country works to respond and recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act, led by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) would fund 750,000 national service positions over a three-year response and recovery period, in part to meet the projected need for as many as 300,000 public health workers. The bill would also expand partnerships between AmeriCorps and federal health agencies and increase the AmeriCorps living allowance to ensure all Americans can step up to serve regardless of their financial circumstances.
“National service programs represent the best of our country. As we confront the coronavirus pandemic, we should be expanding these opportunities for Americans to serve their communities,” Klobuchar said. “I am proud to cosponsor the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act, which will expand our national service programs and create major new opportunities for Americans to serve their country – including new digital tools to help Senior Corps members safely continue their service.”
“As we work to respond and recover from COVID-19, investing in programs that empower Americans to help their communities should be a top priority,” Smith said. “In Minnesota, we’ve already seen so many people step up and make a difference. By expanding national service programs to help respond to this public health emergency, with activities like contact tracing, we will create opportunity for people in Minnesota and across the country to serve their communities and gain valuable skills along the way.”
The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act has bipartisan companion legislation in the House, led by Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).