WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum to highlight his legislation to expand national service amid the COVID-19 pandemic

“[I]n the midst of this pandemic, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Americans looking for an opportunity to serve, whether it's to address hunger and help food banks or it’s to help shut-in seniors, or it’s to help with contact tracing and testing and, God willing, vaccination,” said Senator Coons. “We have an existing nationwide program locally run by state commissions appointed by governors. It's known as AmeriCorps, and I am working with a number of partners. It's a bipartisan bill in the House. I am negotiating with Republican senators about the idea of expanding national service to give a new generation of Americans a chance to come together and to support our country.”

The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act would fund 750,000 national service positions over a three-year response and recovery period to meet the need for hundreds of thousands of people to help with public health efforts like screening and testing, as well as food assistance, education support, and more.  Under the bill, the number of AmeriCorps and national service positions could expand from 75,000 to 150,000 the first year and double to 300,000 in years two and three. 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.

Full audio and video available here. A transcript is provided below

Q: I want to ask you about something totally different, and it does go directly to the COVID-19 economic disaster that is upon the country right now. You want to see a revival; you think there's a way to put young people to work in service in order to help improve what's going on in the country economically. Can you tell me quickly about that before I let you go, Senator? 

Sen. Coons: Sure. That’s right, Martha. You've written about how a younger generation confronted with fascism and imperialism went to war to stand up for our nation. The 9/11 generation went to war to defend our nation. I think in the midst of this pandemic, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of younger Americans looking for an opportunity to serve, whether it's to address hunger and help food banks or it’s to help shut-in seniors, or it’s to help with contact tracing and testing and, God willing, vaccination. We have an existing nationwide program locally run by state commissions appointed by governors. It's known as AmeriCorps, and I am working with a number of partners. It's a bipartisan bill in the House. I am negotiating with Republican senators about the idea of expanding national service to give a new generation of Americans a chance to come together and to support our country. 

Q: I think it's a great idea. Especially that there’s a lot of students who are going to be working from their laptop remotely as they head back to school in the fall and not able to get a job this summer, so I think it's an enormous opportunity with AmeriCorps, and I look forward to being kept posted on that. Thank you for being here, Senator. Always good to have you here. 

###