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Here’s the Score: Bipartisan Support Across the Country for Robust Peace Corps Funding

The “Dear Colleague” letter calling for $450 million in Peace Corps funding draws support from members of Congress across the country.
 

By Jonathan Pearson

Just a few weeks ago Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), Co-Chairs of the House Peace Corps Caucus, issued a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State/Foreign Operations for some long-needed support — and to bolster funding as the Peace Corps agency undertakes to send Volunteers back into the field. 

The letter calls for increasing Peace Corps funding for Fiscal Year 2022 from $410 million to $450 million. Members of the Peace Corps community mobilized across the country to make sure their representative understood the importance of this support. 

Thanks to those efforts, 156 lawmakers across the country signed the bipartisan House Peace Corps funding letter. That includes members of Congress from nearly every state — Alabama to Wisconsin, Delaware to Texas, California to Kansas — and from Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Read the letter here — or scroll down. And see who signed it below. 

If you see your Representative listed as having signed this letter, please follow this link and thank them for taking positive bipartisan action to support the Peace Corps at this critical time.

Thank Your Member of Congress

 


SIGNATURES

as of Monday, April 26, 10:00 AM: 156 

 

Alabama: Sewell

Alaska: Young

American Samoa: Radewagan

Arizona: Gallego, Grijalva

California: Barragan, Bass, Bera, Brownley, Carbajal, Cardenas, Chu, Costa, DeSaulniers, Eshoo, Garamendi (co-author), Jacobs, Khanna, Kim, LaMalfa, Barbara Lee, Mike Levin, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Napolitano, Panetta, Peters, Sanchez, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, Vargas

Colorado: Crow, DeGette, Neguse

Connecticut: Courtney, Hayes, Himes, Larson

Delaware: Blunt Rochester

District of Columbia: Norton

Florida: Deutch, Lawson, Soto, Wilson

Georgia: Bishop, Hank Johnson, McBath, David Scott

Hawaii: Kahele

Illinois: Bustos, Danny Davis, Rodney Davis, Foster, Chuy Garcia, Kelly, Rush, Schakowsky

Indiana: Carson

Iowa: Axne

Kansas: Davids

Kentucky: Barr, Yarmuth

Louisiana: Graves (co-author)

Maine: Golden, Pingree

Maryland: Brown, Raskin, Sarbanes

Massachusetts: Auchincloss, Keating, Lynch, McGovern, Moulton, Neal, Pressley, Trahan

Michigan: Dingell, Kildee, Slotkin

Minnesota: Craig, Phillips

Missouri: Cleaver

Nevada: Horsford, Titus

New Hampshire: Kuster

New Jersey: Gottheimer, Kim, Malinowski, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, Sherrill, Sires, Van Drew

New Mexico: Leger Fernandez

New York: Clarke, Delgado, Jones, Higgins, Katko, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Meeks, Morelle, Rice, Suozzi, Tonko, Torres, Velazquez

North Carolina: Adams, Manning

Northern Marianas: Sablan

Ohio: Beatty, Anthony Gonzalez

Oregon: Blumenauer, Bonamici, DeFazio

Pennsylvania: Boyle, Evans, Fitzpatrick, Wild

Puerto Rico: Gonzalez-Colon

Rhode Island: Cicilline, Langevin

Tennessee: Cohen

Texas: Allred, Castro, Doggett, Escobar, Vicente Gonzalez, Green, Jackson-Lee, E.B. Johnson, Veasey, Vela

Vermont: Welch

Virginia: Beyer, Connolly, Luria, McEachin, Spanberger, Wexton

Virgin Islands: Plaskett

Washington: DelBene, Jayapal, Larsen, Schrier, Adam Smith, Strickland

Wisconsin: Kind, Moore

 

If you see your Representative listed as having signed this letter, please follow this link and thank them for taking positive bipartisan action to support the Peace Corps at this critical time.

 


Here’s the Text from the Letter

Read it below — or download the PDF.

 

April 28, 2021

 

The Honorable Barbara Lee, Chairwoman
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Hal Rogers, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Dear Chairwoman Lee and Ranking Member Rogers:

Thank you for your commitment to the Peace Corps. Because of your efforts, the agency is poised for even greater impact at a time when the unique role of the Peace Corps is urgently needed. To ensure the Peace Corps has the resources needed to further its mission, we respectfully ask that you appropriate $450 million for fiscal year 2022.

Public support for Peace Corps remains strong, and its programs continue to renew and expand, but the agency’s potential is severely limited by its essentially flat funding levels in the past six years. The agency’s budget allocation has not increased beyond $410.5 million since fiscal year 2016. Providing $450 million for fiscal year 2022 would allow the Peace Corps to resume in-country Volunteer activities once safe and prudent to do so, and support the longstanding goal of deploying of 10,000 volunteers worldwide.

More Americans want to serve than the Peace Corps has the funding to absorb. The ratio of annual applications to available Volunteer positions currently stands at over 4:1. Retired General Stanley McChrystal has called this gap between applicants and service opportunities “democratic energy wasted and a generation of patriotism needlessly squandered.” Additionally, six years of essentially flat funding has compelled the agency to cut both pre-service and in-service training days to meet budget restrictions, meaning Volunteers get less time for language, technical, and cross-cultural training.

The Peace Corps works to accomplish its legislative mandate within the context of unique security challenges, and the agency has taken steps to improve the health and safety of its Volunteers as it implements provisions within the Sam Farr Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256). However, there remain residual health care policy issues within the agency that require increased budgetary support. In particular, we need increased funding and compensation levels for Volunteers temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their service abroad.

Similar to members of our military and diplomatic corps, Peace Corps Volunteers take an oath to serve our country, and do so often in remote, challenging environments. Increased funding is necessary to ensure that Peace Corps can fulfill its commitment to the health and safety of American citizens who choose to serve.

We thank you for your efforts to provide Peace Corps with the resources it needs to fuel the next generation of American leadership, and we respectfully ask that you make this $450 million investment in the agency for fiscal year 2022.

 

Sincerely,

 

John Garamendi
Member of Congress

 

Garret Graves
Member of Congress

 


Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.