Young, Cassidy’s VICTORY Act to Harness Federal Service Programs in Coronavirus Response
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) introduced the Volunteers in Contact Tracing or Recovery (VICTORY) Act to use federal service programs, like AmeriCorps, in addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
The VICTORY Act would utilize existing national service programs in a targeted and effective wayby increasing the number of volunteers incrementally, repurposing existing grant dollars for coronavirus response, and increasing agency coordination at the national, state, and local level.
“During this difficult time, we must harness America’s rich history of vibrant volunteerism. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we should modernize our federal programs supporting military, national, or public services to adapt to these challenging times,” said Senator Young. “Rather than spending billions of dollars or creating more big-government, my bill focuses on adding flexibility to existing federal programs and increasing volunteer slots in a targeted way to fill coronavirus response needs, including contact tracing.”
“Americans always answer the call to serve when our nation is facing difficult times. The VICTORY Act harnesses the spirt of volunteerism by modernizing service organizations so that more Americans can become involved in the Covid-19 response. Together, our country can solve the challenges of this pandemic and be stronger for it,” said Dr. Cassidy.
Marc McAleavey, Executive Director of Serve Indiana said, “Now, more than ever before, robust AmeriCorps programming is needed to increase community resiliency utilizing local resources to meet local challenges. Senator Young’s VICTORY Act equips communities across the country with much needed flexibility and growth to get the job done for America.”
Specifically, the VICTORY Act would:
1. Increase volunteer slots by 55,000 volunteers nationwide.
- This is a modest increase that takes into account the uncertainty surrounding how long the pandemic will last, and the varying response plans from states.
- These additional volunteers would be allocated through existing national service channels under AmeriCorps programs and can be rolled out over three years as needed for surge capacity.
- Priority projects would include contact tracing or other needs directly related to coronavirus response.
- Volunteers would be eligible for the same stipends and Segal education awards as dictated by existing programs.
2. Provide flexibility to re-program existing grant dollars.
- Provisions allowing States and State Commissions to use Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) funds for other purposes during a national emergency are codified in statute.
- For flexibility needed outside of a declared national emergency, a process is established to respond to needs in real time. Because the length of the coronavirus pandemic is unknown, grant recipients will need guaranteed flexibility over the coming months and years.
- Barriers restricting CNCS’s use of funds during the coronavirus emergency are removed to ensure continuity in the summer months and to better assist underserved areas.
3. Increase coordination at every level.
- CNCS must coordinate with relevant agencies to provide resources to States in accessing programming to train volunteers for contact tracing positions, or other positions needed to address coronavirus response.
- These federal agencies will include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- States and State Commissions must coordinate with relevant state agencies when re-programming existing dollars.
For the full bill text, click here.
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