“UNITE Act” calls for increased AmeriCorps recruitment and increased compensation, offers priority consideration to unemployed veterans, others unemployed due to the coronavirus
Washington (April 13, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today announced the introduction of legislation to mobilize Americans in the fight against the coronavirus. The Undertaking National Initiatives to Tackle Epidemic Act (UNITE Act) would expand authorization of volunteer opportunities within AmeriCorps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and directs them to prioritize projects related to the pandemic in order to enhance the response on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation ensures that existing workforce programs such as AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and FEMA CORE are fully mobilized in order to assist vulnerable Americans – including the food-insecure, elderly, and homeless – during the pandemic. The bill would also ensure that Peace Corps volunteers, whose service involuntarily ended in March due to the pandemic, will receive benefits and priority placement in these domestic programs so they can continue to use their skills in service to our country.
“It is not too late for President Trump to embrace America’s strong history of national service by mobilizing our people as a cornerstone of the whole-of-government response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Americans stand ready and waiting to help in this pandemic response. Our legislation will make it easier to coordinate a national effort to mobilize our volunteer workforce programs to help those in need and ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are not left behind. I thank Senator Van Hollen for his partnership on this bill and urge our colleagues to join us in harnessing the spirit of volunteerism and service that is a hallmark of the United States of America.”
“As the federal government encourages businesses to retain their employees during these difficult times, it should lead by example and do the same,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Over 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers were recalled from their positions abroad and then left in the cold when they returned home. With expertise in everything from public health to supply chain logistics to food security programs, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and other national service volunteers are uniquely equipped to help our country battle the coronavirus. We should be doing everything in our power to enlist these men and women – and others who are eager to volunteer – in these efforts.”
A copy of the UNITE Act can be found HERE.
Specifically the UNITE Act:
“Senators Markey and Van Hollen have introduced important legislation that will address our national response to the coronavirus pandemic, provide opportunities for evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers to continue serving their country, and utilize the unique skills these volunteers possess and put to use when confronting challenging circumstances,” said Glenn Blumhorst, President and CEO of National Peace Corps Association. “We also appreciate the commitment of Congress to expedite the process and provide the necessary resources through which evacuated volunteers could return to Peace Corps service.”