October 26, 2023

Young, Reed Bill to Boost Civic Engagement and Strengthen National Service Advances to Senate Floor

WASHINGTON Yesterday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 11-1 to advance the bipartisan Unity through Service Act (S.2150), which was introduced earlier this year by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

This legislation is based on the recommendations of the bipartisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service to review the military selective service process and consider methods to increase participation in military, national, and other public service to address the needs of the nation. The Commission published its final report and recommendations just as the pandemic hit American soil, setting off a decline in the rates of volunteerism from 30 percent to 23.2 percent according to data from AmeriCorps. The Commission called for a ten-year goal for five million Americans to begin participating in military, national, or public service each year.

Additionally, the Commission set targets for ensuring there are more than enough qualified individuals seeking to serve in the Armed Forces and for modernizing government personnel systems to attract and enable Americans with critical skills to enter public service. The Unity through Service Act (S. 2150) would provide the architecture and focus to mobilize a whole of government approach to achieving these goals.

“Civic engagement and giving back to one’s community are woven into the fabric of the American spirit. Service brings forth positive change and promotes unity across the nation. The Unity through Service Act would modernize our current federal programs to better match Americans with service opportunities that target community-specific needs, while also appropriately stewarding taxpayer dollars. I am pleased to see this bill move forward in the legislative process,” said Senator Young.

“This bipartisan bill will create the conditions we need to mobilize Americans that are ready and willing to answer the call to serve. It is critical that we come together to meet the challenges we face as a nation and I am proud to join Senator Young in advocating for the Unity through Service Act and reaffirming our national culture of service,” said Senator Reed.

The Unity through Service Act would elevate all forms of service, making it easier for Americans to identify service opportunities that align with their skills and goals.

This bill would establish an Interagency Council on Service to coordinate and lead initiatives that extend across military, national, and public service. The Council will be tasked with preparing and submitting to the President a national strategy on service, including a review of current programs, initiatives, and online content.

Furthermore, the Unity through Service Act would authorize a joint advertising, market research, and recruiting program with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and the Peace Corps to identify successful strategies and efficiently share this information across agencies. The bill would require a quadrennial report to Congress on initiatives to integrate military, national, and public service programs.

Now that the Unity through Service Act has passed through committee, the bill must pass the full U.S. Senate.

This legislation is endorsed by the Voices for National Service, Service Year Alliance, and America’s Service Commissions.