Last Thursday evening, the House of Representatives defeated an amendment that called for further proposed cuts to the Peace Corps’ Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
The vote was 295 – 135 to defeat the amendment. 83 Republicans joined 212 Democrats to defeat the amendment.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives considered the Fiscal Year 2024 State/Foreign Operations (S/FOPS) appropriations bill, with dozens of highly contentious amendments. This included a brief debate on an amendment to further cut funding for the Peace Corps.
Use this link to watch the five minute debate.
The Ogles Amendment
Among the amendments brought forth was a recommendation by freshman Representative Andy Ogles (R-TN) to make an additional $14.3 million cut to Peace Corps funding for the next fiscal year. Questioning the return on investment that Peace Corps provides, Representative Ogles alleged that Congress is “prioritizing the Peace Corps over our veterans, prioritizing the Peace Corps over securing our border.”
Representative Ogles also questioned elements of Peace Corps programming and work, including climate change adaptation, gender equity, and the domestic work of Peace Corps Response Volunteers providing vaccination support during the pandemic. According to Representative Ogles, “It is clear the Peace Corps has become more of an activist organization than an organization determined to help people.” He concluded, “I want to help those around the world, but not at the expense of Americans.”
Representative Lee Responds
While Representative Ogles said his amendment was a modest cut that would bring the Peace Corps funding back to pre-pandemic levels, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the Appropriations S/FOPS Subcommittee corrected him, noting that the bill being debated already calls for a $20 million funding cut, and that his amendment would reduce Peace Corps funding more than $14 million below pre-pandemic funding levels.
Lee stated these cuts would be “endangering the return of volunteers in the field after COVID, and the reopening of new sites, particularly in the Pacific Islands, where strong American diplomacy is sorely needed.”
Rather than questioning the investment, Representative Lee said the Peace Corps is one of the best investments in public diplomacy that we make. “What better ambassadors do we have than young American people, willing to spend two years overseas and building goodwill with people around the world.”
Saying that her fellow Democrats support our veterans and support the Peace Corps, Lee contended that Representative Ogles’ remarks amounted to using military veterans as a pawn in his effort to reduce Peace Corps funding. “I’ve talked to many veterans who appreciate the Peace Corps and appreciate the work they are doing.”
Roll Call Vote
Early Thursday evening, the House voted on the Ogles Peace Corps cutting amendment. The amendment was defeated 295 – 135. 83 Republican lawmakers joined 212 Democrats to defeat the amendment. Unfortunately, 135 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment. Use this link to see how your representative voted. Then, use this link to thank your rep (or express disappointment) for their vote.
NPCA President and CEO Dan Baker issued this statement.
“We are grateful for a bipartisan rejection of the Ogles Peace Corps amendment, though we wish the margin of defeat would have been larger. The Peace Corps – like the various branches of our military – is an important component of our national service agenda. We are very proud of our Peace Corps Volunteers and staff including those military veterans who have also served as Peace Corps Volunteers.
“We continue to have great support for the Peace Corps from a broad range of lawmakers across the political spectrum. However, we are concerned that there are some signs that this support is beginning to show signs of unraveling. The divisive nature of Representative Ogles’ remarks as it relates to pitting Peace Corps Volunteers against military veterans is deeply disturbing.
“We are so proud of our current Peace Corps Volunteers and the tens of thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for the tremendous work they do to bring understanding and goodwill all around the world and here at home. Our nation desperately needs more understanding and goodwill in our civil discourse, and we urge our political leaders to lead the way forward.”