Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456), with bipartisan support. The bill’s original cosponsors include Representatives Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) and Garret Graves (R-LA)—co-chairs of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus with Congressman Garamendi—and Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and Donna E. Shalala (D-FL).
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456) would provide additional federal funding and resources to advance the Peace Corps’ mission around the world and better support current, returning, and former Peace Corps volunteers.
Representatives Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-1968), Kennedy (Dominican Republic 2004-2006), and Shalala (Iran 1962-1964) are returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Representative Radewagen was a former Peace Corps staffer (Northern Mariana Islands 1967-1968).
“My wife Patti and I owe so much to our service in the Peace Corps. It inspired a lifetime of service that began in Ethiopia during the late 1960s and continued into state government in California, the Clinton Administration, and now the U.S. Congress,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA). “Now more than ever, Congress must support the Peace Corps’ mission and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place. Our reauthorization bill does exactly that, and I thank my fellow Peace Corps Caucus co-chairs and Congressional colleagues for their support as original cosponsors.”
“At a time of unrest and uncertainty the world over, the Peace Corps embodies the very best of what America has to offer: service to others for the common cause of peace, progress, and democratic ideals. The Peace Corps Authorization Act will strengthen our country’s commitment to that mission and ensure future generations are prepared to defend this nation’s most sacred values,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA).
“The Peace Corps has been exporting American values for almost six decades, promoting her spirit and sowing seeds of freedom in nations across the world through its work-based service program,” said Congressman Garret Graves, Co-chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus. “Peace Corps volunteers – like the program itself – give more than they take and continue to deliver to taxpayers a compounded return on investment,” said Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA).
“Since its inception, the Peace Corps has used America’s greatest strength – its people – to build civil society and mutual respect between our country and the people of the world. This was true when I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and it is true today. We must continue to fully fund the Peace Corps in order to preserve this vital instrument of American values and democracy,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL).
“My work with the Peace Corps was a special time in my life, and good preparation for keeping the right priorities through the years,” said Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS). “The Peace Corps is a proven program that has helped people now for so long. This is an important effort to reauthorize and strengthen the Peace Corps, while encouraging a culture of serving others and volunteering.”
“As the Peace Corps celebrates its 58th anniversary this year, this comprehensive reauthorization bill will expand support for former and current Peace Corps volunteers and enable the Peace Corps to continue its important contribution to our global diplomacy efforts,” said Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). “I am glad that my bill, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, is included in this reauthorization, allowing those who have been a part of the Peace Corps to proudly display the insignia.”
“National Peace Corps Association is delighted to endorse the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Congressman John Garamendi. In addition to calling for robust funding and a number of other important provisions, this legislation makes fiscally prudent strides in improving the Peace Corps’ commitment to the wellbeing of Volunteers disabled during their national service abroad,” said Glenn Blumhorst, President and CEO of the National Peace Corps Association. “We thank Congressmen Garamendi for his continued commitment to the Peace Corps mission by drafting this Reauthorization which would both improve the benefits of our American Volunteers and enhance the agency’s ability to complete its legislative mandate.”
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456) would:
- Authorize $450 million in yearly funding for the Peace Corps, an increase over the flat $410 million funding level provided by Congress in recent years.
- Direct the Peace Corps to establish new volunteer opportunities that promote Internet technology-adoption in developing countries and engage tech-savvy American volunteers.
- Increase monthly allowances for Peace Corps volunteers and leaders to $417 per month of service completed, to reflect increases in cost of living over the past several decades and provide $10,000 for a full 2-year term of service. The current monthly allowance is $350 per month, as ordered administratively by the Peace Corps Director.
- Include the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act (H.R.1411) sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) since 2013.
- Extend Peace Corps volunteers’ 12-month hiring preference for most federal job openings during any federal hiring freeze, government shutdown, or while a volunteer receives federal worker’s compensation benefits for any injury during their Peace Corps service.
- Require the Peace Corps and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to routinely update their existing Memorandum of Agreement for Peace Corps volunteer security support and protection, in foreign countries.
- Increase the federal workers’ compensation rate for all Peace Corps volunteers injured or disabled during their service from a GS-7 to a GS-11 level, the same rate provided for Peace Corps volunteers with dependent children under current law.
The bipartisan bill builds upon the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256). Congress last reauthorized the Peace Corps in 1999 (Public Law 106-30), which expired at the end of fiscal year 2003. The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R.3456) currently awaits action by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.