Senate Gives Final Approval to Peace Corps Health, Safety Legislation

Monday evening, the United States Senate - on a unanimous voice vote - gave final congressional approval to legislation aimed at further reforming Peace Corps health and safety legislation.

The legislation now heads to President Trump for his signature.

Back in July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 2259, "The Sam Farr, Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act," bringing together various components of earlier bills put forward in the House by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and in the Senate by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

"The congressional champions of H.R. 2259 worked with steadfast commitment to pass this legislation", said Glenn Blumhorst, President and CEO of the National Peace Corps Association. "We are grateful for their bi-partisan and bi-cameral efforts to make sure the important provisions in this bill are on their way to the president for his signature."

Read this press release from Senator Corker, following last night's Senate vote.

Read this press release from Congressman Poe.

Follow this link to read the final version of the legislation.

"Passage of this legislation was not easy and did not come about without significant compromise and some disappointment," said Blumhorst. "However, the end product provides a number of critical reforms that will increase transparency for applicants seeking Peace Corps assignments, strengthen the qualifications of overseas health care personnel, and continue to ensure attention and support for Peace Corps survivors of sexual assault or other forms of violence."

"We are grateful to the NPCA affiliate Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers (HJPCV) for their tireless, longstanding advocacy to advance health improvements for the Peace Corps community. We are equally grateful to Sue and Dave Castle, whose Peace Corps son Nick gave the ultimate sacrifice, for converting their deep despair into determined advocacy to make sure future volunteers don't succumb to failures in the delivery of timely health care to volunteers. These leaders were backed up by several thousand Peace Corps community members who called, wrote or visited their lawmakers to urge passage of this bill."

In Senator Corker's press release, Sue and Dave Castle said they hope this legislation will make changes to in-service health care so other families won't face a similar fate. "Nick wanted to make a difference in this world, but he didn't have time to do that. We hope with the passing of this legislation that he can make a true lasting impact on the Peace Corps.”

Leaders of HJPCV issued the following  statement: "Representative Poe and his team drafted a terrific initial piece of legislation to assist those of us that come back from our service to our country sick or injured. Granted, it was a baby step in rectifying our access to adequate care, but we are grateful for the opportunity to share our stories and struggles on the Hill. After lobbying for nearly a year and a half, the Senate passed a watered down version of the original legislation that Poe and his team had spent years on. While the final legislation still lacks key provisions including an increase in the disability wage level that Representative Poe regretted was not included, we’re so thankful to him and his team for bringing our issues to light and for hearing and believing us. The fight isn’t over, but today we celebrate the small victory that is HR 2259, and hope the president will sign it into law."