By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — National service organizations are pressing Congress to expand AmeriCorps and similar programs in the next coronavirus relief package to employ hundreds of thousands of young people to help rebuild communities devastated by the pandemic.
The plan has echoes of Depression-era work programs that employed Americans to address national needs in a time of crisis.
The service organizations already have the support of a bipartisan group of 16 senators — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — led by Chris Coons, D-Del., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who are the co-authors of the CORPS Act.
“The federal funding currently available is not enough to help address the core weaknesses in education, the economy and public health exposed by this pandemic,” Connolly and Rye Barcott, co-founder and CEO of the veterans group With Honor Action, wrote in a letter sent Sunday to Senate and House leaders on behalf of 168 civilian and veterans service organizations and obtained first by NBC News.
Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a telephone interview that he planned to put in a call to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, to assess what can be done to get it across the finish line.
“This is the kind of investment that I think could really make a difference for a lot of young people and for the country,” he said.