Boston (May 18, 2020) – In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) outlined key pandemic-related international priorities for inclusion in future coronavirus relief packages. The priorities reflect legislation that Senator Markey has introduced since the coronavirus outbreak began, including protecting American citizens abroad, promoting the protection of human rights during the pandemic, ensuring that U.S. sanctions do not hinder the delivery of lifesaving aid, and utilizing the skills of returned Peace Corps volunteers and others who the pandemic has forced to return home. Senator Markey also called for adequate funding for the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and international institutions.


“As we endure the many global challenges COVID-19 has caused, we must lead the fight, protect our citizens, and offer assistance to those suffering around the world,” writes Senator Markey, top Democrat on the Subcommittee On East Asia, The Pacific, And International Cybersecurity Policy of the Foreign Relations Committee, in his letter.


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


In an effort to strengthen and expand the U.S. response to the global pandemic, Senator Markey has introduced several pieces of key legislation:

  • The Expanding Vital American Citizen Services Overseas (EVACS) Act will expedite American Citizen Services at U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions worldwide.
  • The Protecting Human Rights During Pandemic Act requires the State Department and USAID to institute reporting, authorize programming, and engage in strategic planning that will help ensure the protection of internationally recognized human rights during the pandemic.
  • The Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act would streamline the delivery of lifesaving aid that nongovernmental organizations provide to the people of North Korea, by ensuring that the Treasury Department, the State Department, and the UN’s North Korea sanctions committee faithfully implement exemptions for trade in food and medicine.
  • The Undertaking National Initiatives to Tackle Epidemic (UNITE) Act directs both the Corporation for National and Community Service, which manages the flagship AmeriCorps programs, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prioritize the selection and hiring of these service-minded Americans, many of whom were forced to leave their posts and return home due to the pandemic. Here at home, they can apply the skills they developed — aiding vulnerable communities in their time of need and helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.