WASHINGTON — Rep. Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat and others are co-sponsoring the Building Civic Bridges Act, aimed at promoting civic engagement and unity.

What You Need To Know

  • Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, and others are co-sponsoring legislation aimed at promoting civic engagement and unity

  • The bill is called the Building Civic Bridges Act

  • It sets up a non-partisan pilot program under an Office of Civic Bridgebuilding, within AmeriCorps

You don’t need to look far in Washington to find the polarization.

Congress was nearly six months late in finalizing the new federal budget, and lawmakers remain at a standstill over aid to Ukraine.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., threatened to remove Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Friday, mere months after a Republican-led effort to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“There are many areas that we need to work on, but we have to start somewhere,” said Dewey Clayton, University of Louisville political science professor. “And even if this is only symbolic, I still think it sends a good message and the right message.”

The bill would set up a non-partisan pilot program under an Office of Civic Bridgebuilding, within AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism.

Lawmakers say the pilot program would administer a grant program funding civic bridgebuilding efforts around the country, including in nonprofits, schools and religious groups, support AmeriCorps training as well as research in civic bridgebuilding, and launch a public conversation about the importance of the movement.

Clayton is encouraged by the legislation, he said.

“Our politics is really becoming a cesspool,” he said. “To me, this is really a breath of fresh air, even if it doesn't go anywhere … just the mere fact that there's discussion about it.”

Kilmer introduced similar legislation in 2022 with support from Barr and others, but it did not move forward.

The current bill has been referred to the House education committee.   

It sets aside $25 million a year for fiscal years 2025 through 2027.