Collins’ bipartisan bill would ensure benefits for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) this week introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure any Peace Corps volunteers evacuated from abroad during the pandemic qualify for unemployment insurance and may continue to serve stateside as part of the AmeriCorps or similar service programs.

“This bipartisan bill would help ensure that Peace Corps volunteers who have been evacuated due to COVID-19 are eligible for financial assistance offered through the CARES Act,” Sen. Collins said on April 7.

Specifically, the bill would ensure that the U.S. Department of Labor qualifies pandemic-evacuated Peace Corps volunteers for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits described in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Collins’ office.

Additionally, the bill would permit evacuated Peace Corps volunteers to continue to voluntarily purchase health insurance through the Peace Corps for more than three months, and would require federal agencies and departments facing special hiring needs during the pandemic to establish a process to expedite hiring of returned Peace Corps volunteers, among other provisions, according to the bill summary.

“Our nation’s Peace Corps volunteers live and work around the world, making a lasting difference in the lives of countless individuals through grassroots development projects that promote healthy living, entrepreneurship, and education,” said Sen. Collins. “The burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on these public servants should not be overlooked during this economically challenging time.”

The senator introduced the legislation with U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).