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Higgins Says Expanded National Service Would Support COVID Recovery

Aug 6, 2020
Press Release
Congressman Cosponsors Pandemic Response & Opportunity Through National Service Act

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced his cosponsorship of the Pandemic Response & Opportunity Through National Service Act (HR 6702). Upon enactment, this legislation will provide critical funding to a number of national service programs, mobilizing thousands of Americans to respond to the damages wrought by the COVID pandemic.

Once signed into law, this Act will fund tens of thousands of national service positions for a three-year response and recovery period. This Act will double the number of positions with the Corporation for National and Community Service in the first year and will ultimately create 250,000 CNCS jobs by the third year.

The legislation reflects the importance of initiatives like the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps that helped rebuild our nation from the economic and environmental shambles of the Great Depression. Echoing the ingenuity, resilience, and tenacity of the United States’ response to the Great Depression, H.R. 6702 seeks to apply that same strategy to mitigating the crises engendered by the present pandemic. As we continue to address simultaneous crises in the areas of public health and economic security, implementation of the Pandemic Response & Opportunity Through National Service Act will create new opportunities for Americans to stabilize their income and help their communities in the process. 

After more than eight decades, we still rely on many of those same roads, bridges, and schools that were built by our grandparents or great-grandparents. In that time, the need to renew that infrastructure has never coincided so intensely with the need to revitalize our country’s workforce as it has this year: more than 4.79 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 while another 17.8 million have lost their jobs due to the economic fallout of the pandemic. The perils of a public health crisis and widespread economic instability are mutually reinforcing, therefore necessitating multidimensional responses like those proposed in the bill.

In a letter written in support of the bipartisan bill, Congressman Higgins expressed his optimism that the Act “would hire thousands of young American volunteers and marshal their strength and passion toward meeting the public health, educational, nutritional, and workforce challenges presented by COVID-19 and its impact on our nation’s economy.”

Acknowledging the tremendous depth and diversity of disruption caused by COVID-19, the Pandemic Response & Opportunity Through National Service Act prioritizes a wide array of projects. Agencies like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, U.S. Fulbright, and Senior Corps will be mobilized to work on activities such as public health services, programs that support economic opportunity, education support (including for adult learners), and services that combat nutrition insecurity.