WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) announced that Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Democratic Whip, are signing on to cosponsor the bipartisan Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service (CORPS) Act. The CORPS Act would expand national service programs significantly to help the country respond to and recover from COVID-19. The senators are working to include it in the COVID-19 relief bill currently being negotiated in the Senate.
“Many of us have seen the very real impact that national service has on our communities and the young people who serve,” Senator Coons said. “As our country works to respond to and recover from this pandemic, we should empower the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are ready to roll up their sleeves and serve their communities – whether it’s helping to combat hunger, strengthen our schools, or build capacity at community-based organizations. Senator Wicker and I are grateful for the support of Senator Blunt, Senator Durbin, and our colleagues, and look forward to working with them to include this important effort in the COVID-19 relief bill currently being considered in the Senate.”
“Helping our nation respond to and recover from the coronavirus outbreak will require an all-hands approach,” Senator Wicker said. “Boosting the ranks of our service corps is a cost-efficient way to get communities the help they need. I am glad to join Senator Coons in introducing the CORPS Act, which would enhance our national service programs and provide participants with the resources they need to endure this crisis. With their contributions, I am hopeful our nation can emerge stronger than ever before.”
“Americans are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the same way they’ve always responded to major national challenges – with an eagerness to do whatever they can to help their neighbors and communities make it through this crisis,” said Senator Blunt. “National service organizations have the infrastructure in place to connect people who want to serve with opportunities to fill critical needs in their communities. I’m proud to join Senators Coons and Wicker on this bill to expand the capacity of national service organizations to mobilize support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Whether running food pantries, mentoring at local schools, or helping patients receive proper health care, young men and women have made their communities stronger by answering the call to serve our country through national service programs. As Americans face the COVID-19 crisis, we must support and expand the service programs that offer critical leadership to those in need,” said Senator Durbin. “Along with my other efforts to bolster our health care workforce capacity, I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading the expansion of national service programs to offer Americans the opportunity to support their neighbors and help our country recover from the damage the COVID-19 pandemic has left in its wake.”
In addition to Coons, Wicker, Blunt, and Durbin, the CORPS Act is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Angus King (I-Maine), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The bill has gained the support of more than 160 organizations, including Voices for National Service, America’s Service Commissions, Service Year Alliance, FoodCorps, the Catholic Volunteer Network, and The Corps Network.
The CORPS Act would quickly double the number of AmeriCorps positions available to 150,000 and provide a total of 600,000 service opportunities nationwide over the next three years to unemployed youth and others looking to assist their communities. These positions could support a variety of response and recovery efforts based on community needs, including expanding food pantry capacity, mentoring and tutoring at-risk students, bridging health inequities by expanding access to COVID-19 screening and testing, and more.
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