On March 3 we kicked off our 18th season of advocacy in support of the Peace Corps. Our key priority: passing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act. Congressional meetings are being organized, and op-eds are being published. Now is the time to get involved.
By Jonathan Pearson
National Peace Corps Association kicked off National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps on March 3. For 18 years, this grassroots effort by the Peace Corps community to work with members of Congress has been one of NPCA’s key contributions to Peace Corps Week (which concluded on March 5, 2022). Moving forward, our key legislative priority this year is passing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, which will help ensure a better and stronger Peace Corps to meet the needs of a changed world.
Last year, as Peace Corps celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding, it was amid a global pandemic and social distancing. A national crisis saw the U.S. Capitol closed to most visitors. This year, the dangers of COVID-19 are far from over, and our nation remains deeply polarized. After an invasion by Vladimir Putin, Ukraine is fighting a war it did not want and did not start.
Yet, as Peace Corps posts around the world have increasingly met robust new protocols for health and safety, Volunteers are also soon going to begin returning to service in communities overseas. It is a time of unprecedented challenges and renewed opportunities. And it is a time when the mission of building peace and friendship is more important than ever before. In March and April, your involvement is key.
March 3 Kickoff
Our Days of Advocacy began with a virtual kickoff on Thursday, March 3. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former Peace Corps staff, invited Volunteers, and other supporters came together to hear remarks by Peace Corps champions in Congress including RPCV Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Advocacy leaders discussed the crucial work for improvements and reforms that will ensure that Volunteers are returning to a stronger, better, and well-resourced Peace Corps. Our highest legislative priority is to pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in decades.
It's not too late to get involved in our National Days of Advocacy. A stronger and better Peace Corps begins with you!
Take Individual Action Right Now
Visit our NPCA Action Center to write to your members of Congress. Share this link with others. We need every citizen who believes in the importance of the Peace Corps to contact Congress at this consequential moment in Peace Corps history!
Check out our 2022 Days of Advocacy map to see if any activities are already in the works, including virtual meetings with congressional offices, virtual letter writing, advocacy workshops, and more.
If there’s no activity already scheduled in your area, fill out this form and help lead one.
Meetings With Congress
A key component of our 2022 Days of Advocacy will be district office or virtual meetings with congressional offices. This is particularly the case with your senators, where much work remains to advance and pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act.
We also put together the video below to give you an introduction to advocacy.
More Resources for Your Meetings with Congress
Visit our State Resources page for a one-page document about Peace Corps activity in your state and to see profiles of every member of Congress. The document is designed for you to download and share with congressional staff at the end of your office meetings.
We are currently updating a more in-depth document with a more complete overview of legislative priorities. For right now, you can use the 2021 Fact Sheet.
Priorities: Peace Corps Legislation, Funding, and More
Our Days of Advocacy Agenda will continue taking shape as developments occur in the weeks and months ahead. We’ll update this page as more information becomes available.
Comprehensive Peace Corps Legislation in both the Senate and House of Representatives
Passage of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act is NPCA’s top legislative priority in 2022.
In the House of Representatives, returned Volunteer Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456) in 2021. Last fall, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed this amended version of the legislation by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 44 to 4.
In the Senate, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is expected to introduce similar legislation in March 2022.
Peace Corps Funding in the Senate and House of Representatives
Unfortunately, and for a seventh consecutive year, Congress approved a Fiscal Year 2022 spending plan that will include flat funding of $410.5 million for the Peace Corps.
There is better news as work begins on the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. On March 28th, President Biden submitted his FY 2023 budget to Congress. Included in his budget is a request of $430.5 million for the Peace Corps, a nearly five percent increase in funding.
As with years past, we anticipate mobilizing our community in the coming weeks to urge lawmakers to sign House and Senate “Dear Colleague” letters supporting robust funding for the Peace Corps in FY 2023. Stay connected to NPCA advocacy for action related to these letters.
Peace Corps Director Nomination | Senate Action Only
On April 6, 2022, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn to become the 21st Peace Corps Director. Once officially nominated, Acting Director Spahn will face a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If she passes a vote in the committee, her confirmation would go to the full Senate for a final vote.
Read more here about this nomination, including a supporting statement from NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst.
If you have upcoming meetings with Senate offices (especially members of the Foreign Relations Committee), please urge swift, strong, and bipartisan confirmation of Carol Spahn as the next Peace Corps Director.
Diversity and Inclusion Within the State Department | House of Representatives Action Only
The Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act (H.R. 4589) was introduced last July by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). The legislation would create a senior level position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to advocate for diversity within the State Department. A Leadership Council would be established and accountable for implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. H.R. 4589 also changes promotion practices to improve retention and fairness, and creates a mentoring program within the agency.
Story updated April 7, 2022 at 7:00 AM Eastern.
Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.