Today the Trump Administration announced its proposal to cut almost $12 million from Peace Corps’ present budget, lowering it to $398 million for fiscal year 2018. This amounts to the largest proposed cut to the Peace Corps by a president in over 40 years.
With these cuts, the agency will likely be unable to increase the number of volunteers for greater impact in over 60 countries, make programmatic improvements volunteers need to be effective, or invest in our domestic dividend through support for returned volunteers' work in their local communities.
The budget proposal also requests disproportionate 32% cuts to the topline International Affairs Budget, bringing America's development and diplomacy programs back to 9/11 levels and hampering the ability of Peace Corps' partners to strengthen interagency project implementation.
Glenn Blumhorst, president and CEO of National Peace Corps Association, responded to the president’s proposed cuts:
Considering the challenges we currently face at home and abroad, it is deeply concerning that a cut of almost $12 million is being proposed for the Peace Corps and a 32% cut is being proposed for our development and diplomacy programs. This represents a serious step in the wrong direction. Volunteers continue to be in great demand to implement critical development projects and promote mutual understanding in the countries they serve as well as to bring their grit and innovation back home. In light of this news, we will only up our efforts, along with our champions on Capitol Hill and the international affairs and Peace Corps communities, to protect level funding of $410 million for the Peace Corps and $60 billion for the International Affairs Budget for fiscal year 2018.
The president’s proposed cuts come at a time when the Peace Corps is poised to heighten its impact. Applications to the agency remain well above 20,000 and global demand for more volunteers continues to increase, especially in emerging economies. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), global food security programs, and other whole-of-government programs all rely on Peace Corps Volunteers to implement their projects.
On Capitol Hill, the firewall of opposition to cuts continues to grow. In March, a record 175 House Members signed a bipartisan letter to appropriators requesting level funding for the Peace Corps, and 43 Republican and Democratic Senators recently wrote to key committees in support of robust funding of the International Affairs Budget.
Congress now has until September 30 to send a spending package to the White House.