May 06, 2020

Udall Introduces Legislation to Dramatically Expand National Service to Combat COVID-19 Crisis

Legislation is supported by 100+ national service and public health organizations

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined 15 senators in introducing legislation to significantly expand national service programs as the country works to respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act 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, increase the AmeriCorps living allowance, and increase the total amount of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award given to corps members following a successful year of service, to ensure all Americans can step up to serve regardless of their financial circumstances.

“At a time when roughly one in and five American workers are out of a job, and more than a million new graduates are about to enter the workforce, investing in national service programs means investing in economic opportunity and providing critical assistance to communities in New Mexico and across the country that are deeply in need, particularly in rural communities and Indian Country,” said Udall. “We know that Americans want to help their communities get through this crisis – we have the chance to mobilize that energy with the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act. This legislation puts Americans to work and will empower people of all ages and walks of life to help their neighbors and communities during this challenging moment.”

In addition to Udall, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and companion legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

The bill has gained the support of more than 100 organizations, including Voices for National Service America’s Service Commissions, City Year, the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, FoodCorps, Habitat for Humanity International, Hunger Free America, Jumpstart, National Health Corps, National Senior Corps Association, National Youth Leadership Council, Service Year Alliance, Teach for America, and YouthBuild. 

For a full list of supportive organizations, please click here.

“AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs across the country are stepping up to address the critical needs facing communities dealing with the crippling impact of COVID-19. From supporting public health needs such as testing and contract tracing to ensuring that homebound and medically vulnerable populations have food and life-saving medicine, to supporting students trying to keep up academically, America's national service infrastructure is playing an essential role in the response and recovery efforts across the country,” said AnnMaura Connolly, President of Voices for National Service. “The more than 100 organizations who have signed on in support of The Pandemic Response and Opportunity through National Service Act are tremendously grateful to Senator Coons and his colleagues for working in a bipartisan way to get them the support they need to ramp up their service to meet increasing demand for support from states and cities nationwide.”

For a one-pager on the bill, please click here. For the bill text, please click here.