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Former Directors Defend Peace Corps’ Independence

A bi-partisan group of ten former Peace Corps directors are unified in their opposition to Senate legislation that would place Peace Corps operations under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of State, ending the agency’s independent status.

“The independence of the Peace Corps has been carefully protected by Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Congress for the past 58 years,” said the letter addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and signed by ten former directors. “Part of the reason (for this independence) is to ensure that Volunteers would not be confused with those carrying out day-to-day U.S. foreign and security policies. Turning the Peace Corps into a bureau of the Department of State would void that independence.”

The letter also references the 1961 statement of then Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who outlined the importance of Peace Corps independence at its inception: “The Peace Corps is not an instrument of foreign policy because to make it so would rob it of its contribution to foreign policy.”

Read the Full Letter


Last July, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the “Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act” (S.2320), which proposes Peace Corps be made a subordinate agency within the Department of State, with the Peace Corps budget being incorporated into the State Department. The bill also calls for the removal of Volunteers currently serving in China and states that “the Peace Corps shall not operate in any country that is hostile to the national security interests of the United States, as determined by the Secretary of State.”

As part of NPCA’s upcoming National Days of Action, advocates will meet with lawmakers to take action on this legislation. Register here if you plan to join us for our March 5th Capitol Hill advocacy day or register here if you can organize a solidarity event in your community during March or April.

Have questions? We’re here to help. Email [email protected].

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