A mostly Democratic group of Congress members led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is asking the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and FEMA to provide recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers the opportunity to complete their service through domestic coronavirus response efforts.
Current and former presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are among the supporters, which include more than 20 senators and 18 Democratic members of the House. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is currently the only Republican signatory.
In the letter, the lawmakers wrote that while they supported the recall of the volunteers, they “believe that terminating their service contracts and health insurance coverage — at a time when our country’s public health and economic crises are rapidly worsening — not only endangers the livelihood of volunteers, but also squanders their unique skillset. We therefore urge you to provide them opportunities to enlist in domestic efforts to combat COVID-19.”
The letter says the volunteers’ expertise is now “desperately needed on the home front” and urges they be fast tracked into relevant FEMA and AmeriCorps roles or become part of a COVID-19 response corps, if one is formed. The lawmakers requested a mid-April briefing on any steps toward those ends. In a second letter, lawmakers asked the administration clarify that unemployment benefits in the recently passed stimulus package covers Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and other national service participants.