Ten former Peace Corps Directors oppose Senate legislation see more
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agency slated to receive $410 million for fifth consecutive year see more
After weeks of negotiations, Congress approved and President Trump signed a $1.4 trillion federal spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY 2020) that includes level funding of $410.5 million for Peace Corps.
The House of Representatives approved the spending package on December 17th, while the Senate ratified the package on December 19th. President Trump signed the legislation on December 20th, the day when a continuing resolution to keep the government operating was set to expire.
“While we realize our lawmakers have many difficult decisions before them when putting together our federal budget, it is disappointing they chose to flat fund Peace Corps once again,” said NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. “Other than a very minimal – one tenth of one percent – increase in spending last year, this will mark the fifth consecutive year that Peace Corps will be forced to manage its operations with the same amount of funding. When inflation is factored in, the agency will need to sustain operations with tens of millions of dollars less in purchasing power. Peace Corps is already experiencing negative impacts, at a time when the needs and importance of international service is as important as ever.”
While Congress only funded Peace Corps at current levels, it rejected the Trump Administration’s recommendation to cut funding by more than $14 million. The president has proposed cutting Peace Corps’ budget each of the past three years.
Did your affiliate group sign this year's letter? see more
With a new federal fiscal year underway and Congress yet to determine if Peace Corps funding will get an increase or continue to remain stagnant, it may seem strange to be turning any attention to the next budget cycle. But within the executive branch, staff at the Office of Management and Budget are hard at work preparing their recommendations for Congress for the 2021 Fiscal Year budget, which the president will present to Congress early next year.
Since 2013, NPCA has responded by seeking the assistance of our affiliate groups to bring the voice of the Peace Corps community to the White House. This is done in the form of an affiliate group sign-on letter urging the president to request strong funding for the Peace Corps.
Affiliate group leaders responded forcefully this year, 124 group representatives signed the letter, representing more than 68,000 of their members. That's a new record, surpassing the 115 group signatures collected in 2013.
This year's letter highlights the announcement made earlier this year to begin a program in Montenegro, and points to the ongoing desire from foreign countries to establish or increase Peace Corps programs. It highlights Peace Corps' significant role in supporting the Trump administration's Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. At the same time, it also expresses disappointment that the president's previous three budget requests have called for Peace Corps funding cuts, a presidential recommendation not seen in over four decades.
Our thanks to the many affiliate groups and leaders who joined together in common cause.
Proposed funding levels strongly suggests that Peace Corps will not receive a recommended raise. see more
As Senate leadership struggles to bring a Fiscal Year 2020 State/Foreign Operations bill to the Senate Floor for a vote, a recently released copy of proposed funding levels strongly suggests that Peace Corps will not receive the recommended raise from Senate appropriators.
The Senate's proposed funding level for the State Department and a wide range of international affairs programs totals $56.8 billion, a roughly 1.4 percent increase over current spending.
Included in the proposal released late this week is a recommendation that Peace Corps funding remain at $410.5 million.
Differences between House and Senate Funding Recommendations
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has already approved a State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill that recommends a 3.5 percent increase in Peace Corps funding, at $425 million.
With disagreements in funding levels and the end of the 2019 federal fiscal year just days away, Congress is moving to finalize a continuing resolution. This temporary funding bill will allow federal programs to continue operating after the October 1st deadline at current levels until both sides strike a long-term funding deal.
Eventually, both chambers will need to come together in a Conference Committee and negotiate agreed upon funding levels where differences exist. This includes the likely $14.5 million discrepancy in Peace Corps funding.
Watch for Updates
Stay connected to National Peace Corps Association for updates and opportunities for action in support of increased funding for Peace Corps. As the Senate and House look to be moving towards different recommendations, action alerts for strong Peace Corps funding are very likely this fall.
Build your skill set and be an essential NPCA community leader see more
With more than fifty district office advocacy meetings being held or scheduled around the country, volunteer advocacy coordinators are playing a key a role in reaching out to district offices, recruiting local RPCV advocates, and coordinating with NPCA staff in Washington.
Next week, members of the South Florida Returned Peace Corps Volunteers will be meeting with district office staff of Senator Rick Scott to discuss their reasons for opposing the senator's legislation to put an end to the independent status of the Peace Corps. The group's advocacy coordinator, Ana Ciereszko, is finalizing preparations for that meeting.
In central Massachusetts, advocacy coordinator Tim Garvin is preparing for some one-on-one time with House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) at an upcoming gathering.
Three weeks ago, central Wisconsin advocacy coordinator Judy Figi met with freshman Congressman Bryan Steil (R-WI) to help introduce him to key issues of the Peace Corps community.
And, at a recent town hall meeting in Fort Wayne, advocacy coordinator Faith Van Gilder questioned Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) about his support of the defeated Walker amendment, which among other things, called for eliminating Peace Corps funding in fiscal year 2020.
Sign Up Today!
You can become an NPCA advocacy coordinator. No prior experience is necessary. All you need is a passion for the Peace Corps, a willingness to learn some basics about successful citizen-lobbying, and a commitment to a little community organization within your regional/statewide Peace Corps community.
Interested? Contact NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson at email@example.com for more details, including plans for an advocacy coordinator introductory webinar later this year!
Be a leader. Add to your skill-set. Keep Peace Corps strong. see more
A defeated amendment to eliminate Peace Corps funding next fiscal year. Senate legislation to place Peace Corps under the Department of State. House legislation that would propose no less than $450 million for the Peace Corps, protect volunteer non-competitive eligibility (NCE) during a federal hiring freeze, increase pay for RPCVs on disability, and allow the Peace Corps logo to be used at gravesites of deceased volunteers and former staff.
The 116th Congress has before it legislation that will have an impact on these and other Peace Corps-related issues. That’s why we are promoting and supporting district office meetings around the nation over the next ten weeks. It is time your lawmakers hear from you!
Ten district office meetings involving RPCV constituents have been held over the past several weeks with dozens more currently in the planning stages. Additionally, NPCA is collaborating with grassroots organization RESULTS, whose advocates support legislation and policies to address global health and poverty. Where possible, NPCA and RESULTS advocates will come together as voices for a strong foreign policy that supports humanitarian assistance around the world.
We encourage you to join in! View this map to see where meetings have been held or are in the works. Contact us if you want more information on an existing meeting or are ready to step up and take the lead in organizing a meeting at a congressional district office near you!
As you review the map, note the following:
RED PINS = District office meetings that have already been conducted.
BLUE PINS = District office meetings that are scheduled or being actively pursued.
YELLOW PINS = Areas and lawmakers where interest in a district office meeting has been expressed, but where we have yet to confirm meetings are being actively pursued.
(Photo: Several weeks ago, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Fort Worth, Texas meet with the district director of Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) to discuss Peace Corps issues and thank the congresswoman for successfully opposing an amendment which would have eliminated all Peace Corps funding in Fiscal Year 2020)
ACTION ALERT: Oppose Legislation Introduced to Make Peace Corps a Sub-Agency of the State DepartmentPeace Corps' independence is imperative for its continued success see more
Keep Peace Corps Independent and Internationally Trusted
Join the Peace Corps community in protecting the independent, non-political nature of the Peace Corps by opposing legislation (S.2320) introduced by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) that would make Peace Corps subordinate to the Department of State under the direction of the Secretary of State.
By safeguarding Peace Corps' status as an independent agency, we can help to ensure that it will not be used to promote short-term goals of the Secretary of State or whichever administration is occupying the White House. The international perception of the Peace Corps' independence is imperative for its continued success, which is based on mutual respect and trust of the host countries.
Hundreds of members of the Peace Corps community gathered in Austin, TX to collaborate & innovate! see more
What happens when hundreds of members of the Peace Corps community get together to discuss innovation, collaboration, and service? An exhilarating two-and-a-half days of conversation on topics ranging from immigration to social media, economic development to climate change, and everything in between.
"What starts here changes the world." As our co-host, the Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association (HoTPCA), pointed out, this University of Texas at Austin saying applies to the shared Peace Corps experience and inspired attendees to be curious, go beyond expectations, and take what they learned in Austin back to their home communities.
The conference officially kicked off on Thursday, June 20th at the Austin Central Library with live music from RPCVs Kinky Friedman and Doster and Engle.
On Friday, the opening plenary session featured a conversation with Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. Afterwards, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding to renew the organizations’ commitments to support the Peace Corps’ mission and continue to implement initiatives that educate the public on Peace Corps programs. “The signing of this memorandum gives returned Peace Corps Volunteers a framework for a lifetime of service,” said Jody Olsen. “I ask every person at this conference to be strong as you talk about your volunteer experiences. You are key to the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers.”
Following, Kathleen Corey, President of the Women of Peace Corps Legacy, presented Sue Richiedei with the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement award for her outstanding impact on women's lives worldwide. NPCA Board Director Mariko Schmitz then presented the New York City Peace Corps Association (NYCPCA) and Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA) with the 2019 Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Whether you served decades ago or are a recently returned Volunteer, the conference offered tremendous value and networking opportunities. The community content sessions and workshops focused on a variety of topics, including how to use technology to launch a business, innovations in global issues advocacy, transition assistance for recent RPCVs, how to harness market forces for social impact, and ways to work together to create positive political change in era of "America First." As Tom Lightbown (RPCV Niger 1965-1967) pointed out: "We made some new friends, including youngsters fresh out of service, discovered RPCVs with white hair from other countries of service with stories to tell, made some quite important contacts of value to our Guinean friend Ahmadou Baldé, and, overall, had a very positive first experience with Peace Corps Connect."
The energy throughout the conference was palpable, as well as the level of engagement. With interactive sessions such as "Stepping Up - Politics: The Next Level of the Third Goal" and "Be an RPCV Changemaker: Connecting via the Web to Spark Community and Economic Development in Your Peace Corps Site" participants learned strategies on how to be catalysts for change, both at home and abroad.
"The PC Connect Conference was both informative and inspiring. The theme of the conference was “Innovation for Good" and the breakout sessions highlighted many RPCV created programs, companies, and NGOs that contribute to that objective." - Greg Polk (NM RPCV)
During the Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting, the new Divisional Board Directors were presented and representatives from NPCA Affiliate Groups shared resources and opportunities to help groups thrive.
On Saturday, June 22, NPCA Board Director Katie Long kicked off the Annual General Membership Meeting with a special Peace Corps ukelele rendition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," while NPCA Treasurer Patrick Fine provided a report on the financial status of the organization, and President Glenn Blumhorst outlined the successes of the past year.
During the Pitch Competition, six entities pleaded their case for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize. The finalist were:
- Humans of Kiribati for its effort to save the island of Kiribati from rising sea levels
- Peace Corps Kids for promoting a just and inclusive world through multicultural and multiracial storytelling
- Trees for the Future's initiative Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) to break the cycle of poverty and eradicate hunger for 1 million people by planting 500 million trees in 125,000 Forest Gardens by 2025
- Jump Finance's credit model to provide students in developing countries with the capital and mentorship to finish their post-secondary education and launch their careers
- Teachers Training Pact, a programs for teachers who are helping transform students into successful lifelong learners
- Tiny House Coffee, a company created by two Peace Corps Volunteers that works directly with small producer coffee farmers to guarantee them economic stability.
Each finalist was scored based on their demonstrated social impact, innovation, sustainability, leadership, presentation, and clarity of concept. Ultimately, Jump Finance took the top prize.
As NPCA continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary, a special retrospective took a look at our formative years from the view point of the earliest leaders of the organization with Greg Flakus, First President (1986-1989); Margaret Riley, Third President (1983-1986); and Katy Hansen, Fourth President (1986-1989).
Attendees where also treated to a special excerpt from A Towering Task: A Peace Corps Documentary and a conversation with Director Alana DeJoseph who announced the premiere screening of the documentary is slated for September 22 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
During the closing plenary, Karen Keefer, NPCA Board Emeritus and Shriver Leadership Circle member, presented Liz Fanning with the 2019 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service for her tireless efforts to create and expand CorpsAfrica, a nonprofit organization that gives young Africans the opportunity to serve like Peace Corps Volunteers in their own countries.
The conversation then turned to a panel discussion examining the historic exodus from Central America and the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border. Reflecting on the special screening of ABRAZOS earlier in the day, a film by Luis Argueta that shows the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents—and in some instances their siblings—for the first time, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst moderated a panel titled "Beyond Borders" featuring Maria Martin, Director of The Graciasvida Center for Media; John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent for National Public Radio; and Luis Argueta, acclaimed Guatemalan Film Director and Producer. The panelists underscored the need for policy solutions and the opportunities for the Peace Corps community to take action.
"We need to humanize immigrants. The global community needs to fight fiction with truth." - Luis Argueta
After the panel, Ken Lehman, NPCA's Advisory Council Member, presented Luis Argueta with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. Lehman, in nominating Argueta for this award, noted that Argueta “has demonstrated that filmmakers from the developing world can produce world class stories illuminating important issues… [H]is involvement in the entire issue of Latino immigration has humanitarian dimensions, and civic meaning.”
In accepting the award, Argueta said "tell those who are fearful of people who are not like them about your host families" and challenged us to change the immigration narrative "from one of hate to one of love...we need to remember to practice the Golden Rule."
As the conference drew to a close, HoTPCA President Sally Waley announced Seattle as the host city for Peace Corps Connect 2020! She handed the "baton" over to Seattle Area Peace Corps Association (SEAPAX) President Brad Cleveland. The conference will have an emphasis on immigrants and refugees and will be centered around “Cultivating Connections.” While the exact dates are yet to be determined, SEAPAX leaders indicated they are looking for dates in the summer next year. Stay tuned for more information!
Raise Your Voice to Educate the 110 Members of Congress Who Voted to Eliminate Funding for the Peace Corps in 2020We are mobilizing to engage the 110 House Reps who voted to eliminate Peace Corps funding in FY 2020 see more
Last month, the House of Representatives voted 315 - 110 to reject an amendment introduced by Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) that would have slashed more than $19 billion from our international assistance programs, including the complete elimination of funding for the Peace Corps in Fiscal Year 2020.
More than 9,000 members of National Peace Corps Association's advocacy network took action to turn back this ill-conceived amendment. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to educate the 110 members of Congress who voted in favor.
How Did Your Representative Vote? Find out here.
IF YOU LIVE IN A DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTED IN RED, WE NEED YOU TO GET INVOLVED
Last week, NPCA president Glenn Blumhorst traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina where he was joined by four RPCV constituents of Congressman Walker to meet with district office staff. The group expressed strong disappointment for the introduction of the amendment, which if passed, would have abruptly ended the service for 170 serving Peace Corps Volunteers from North Carolina, including 14 from the congressman's district. The group shared how their Peace Corps service benefits the district and the state, and how Peace Corps provides a strong return each year on our nation's $410 million annual investment.
That's not all.
- On June 27th, NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson and PCV constituent Ed Seiders met with the the Tulsa district office staff of Oklahoma Congressman Kevin Hern to express dismay in Congressman Hern's vote in support of the Walker amendment.
- On July 3rd, Northeast Indiana Advocacy Coordinator Faith Van Gilder attended a town hall meeting with Congressman Jim Banks and questioned him about his vote for the Walker amendment, and his own amendment that would have cut spending for Peace Corps and other international affairs programs for Fiscal Year 2020.
- In West Virginia, state advocacy coordinator Scott King wrote a letter to the editor praising one member and criticizing two others for their votes on the Walker amendment. Similar action was taken in South Dakota, as this letter by RPCVs Tom Katus and Michael Saba was published.
Time to Take Action and Educate Congress on the Critical Importance of the Peace Corps
While the vote on the amendment was rejected, it is important for you to engage and educate lawmakers on the critical importance to protect the Peace Corps.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you to take additional action.
- On June 27th, NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson and PCV constituent Ed Seiders met with the the Tulsa district office staff of Oklahoma Congressman Kevin Hern to express dismay in Congressman Hern's vote in support of the Walker amendment.
The bill would provide additional federal funding and resources to advance Peace Corps’ mission. see more
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.
Peace Corps was one of a number of international affairs programs on the chopping block see more
Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives came together Tuesday evening to soundly reject a proposal to re-allocate foreign assistance funding in Fiscal Year 2020, including the elimination of all House funds slated for the Peace Corps.
An amendment to the State/Foreign Operations funding package to cut just over $19 billion in foreign assistance programs was defeated by a vote of 315 to 110. 81 House Republicans joined 234 House Democrats to defeat the amendment.
In bringing forth the amendment last week, Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) argued that funds needed to be re-allocated, to compensate for an earlier House vote to provide $19 billion to fund disaster relief assistance around the country. Included in his amendment was the complete elimination of $425 million proposed for the Peace Corps for the fiscal year that begins in October.
"We must prioritize our domestic needs first," Walker said during debate on his amendment last Thursday.
"How are these cuts in our national interest?", countered House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). Lowey referenced Peace Corps Volunteers in her remarks, saying "7,200 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving as excellent representatives of the United States."
Peace Corps Community Response
Over the last several days, members and friends of the Peace Corps community sent at least 9,000 communications to their House representatives. Every House member heard from at least one constituent on this issue, and nearly 70 percent of House members received ten or more communications - in some cases, many, many more!
"We applaud the strong, bipartisan rejection of this ill-conceived amendment," said National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst. "I thank all NPCA members and friends of the Peace Corps community who spoke with one voice about the value of Peace Corps - not just for people around the world, but also for communities here at home when returning volunteers continue their commitment to serving others."
How Did Your Representative Vote?
Follow this link to see if your House Rep was among the 315 members who voted to defeat the Walker amendment.
Mobilize others to sign this petition to Congress see more
Dear Members and Friends of the Peace Corps Community,
We write to you as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and/or former staff who served in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
As many from our generation of service are growing older, we imagine many share our view that we would like to be able to have our Peace Corps service recognized by allowing the placement of the official Peace Corps seal or emblem at gravesites and in death notices.
Unfortunately, the use of the seal or emblem for this purpose is not specified as an allowed use under the Peace Corps Act. Because of this, it is illegal to use the Peace Corps symbol for this purpose.
Thankfully, a bill in the House of Representatives – H.R. 1411 – has been introduced in Congress to make a simple fix – change the Peace Corps Act so the seal or emblem can be used at gravesites and in death notices.*
The bill has not yet passed – not necessarily because of opposition, but more likely because of limited attention given to it.
We are working with National Peace Corps Association to pass this bill. But we need your help.
Please follow this link so you can sign a petition to Congress, offer a comment and help us pass this simple, sensible legislation to honor Peace Corps service.
Thank you for your Peace Corps service and your consideration of this request.
Robert C. Terry, Staff, East Pakistan/Bangladesh (1961-63)
Judith H. Whitney-Terry, Honduras (1987-88)
Jack Wilson, Liberia (1962-64); Staff, Sierra Leone (1966-68); Director, Fiji (1970-72)
Angene H. Wilson, Liberia (1962-64)
Will Irwin, Afghanistan (1966-67)
Frances Hopkins Irwin, Afghanistan (1964-67)
* Work is underway to have a similar bill introduced in the United States Senate
Proposal would add $15 million to Peace Corps budget see more
The House of Representatives Subcommittee which has responsibility for funding our nation’s international affairs programs has recommended a 3.5 percent increase in funding for the Peace Corps for the Fiscal Year that begins next October (FY 2020).
(UPDATE: On Thursday, May 16th, the full House Appropriations Committee approved a spending package that includes the recommended $425 million for Peace Corps. The international affairs funding package will next head to the House floor for a vote.)
At a meeting last Friday, the Appropriations Subcommittee for State/Foreign Operations approved a spending plan that includes $425 million for the Peace Corps, up from the current funding level of $410.5 million. This was part of a $56.4 billion spending package for international affairs programs. That’s a proposed four percent ($2.2 billion) increase in overall spending.
The proposed increase in Peace Corps funding is in contrast to the Trump Administration's budget, which called for a $14 million cut in funding. At the same time, it falls short of the $450 million requested by 181 House members in a letter to the subcommittee.
The Senate's version of the State/Foreign Operations bill has not advanced as far as the House has at this time. Meanwhile, other challenges to address the overall budget and appropriations process have yet to be addressed, and could significantly impact final funding levels and the possibility of another government shutdown in the fall.
You took action - Your members of Congress responded see more
Each spring, the Peace Corps community mobilizes to support letters issued in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging robust funding for the Peace Corps.
Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) circulated a Dear Colleague letter asking for an increase in Peace Corps funding, and the Peace Corps community responded. The Dear Colleague letter, an official correspondence sent by Members of Congress to encourage others to support or oppose a bill, received a record 41 signatures this year. That number surpassed the previous high of 37 signatures, achieved in both 2009 and 2018.
Coupled with a record breaking House Dear Colleague letter and its 181 signatures, a combined 222 lawmakers, representing 41 percent of Congress (also a new record), demonstrated strong support for the Peace Corps. With such a high number of signatures, it is more likely that Congress will include an increase in Peace Corps's budget for the 2020 Fiscal Year.
To read the Senate letter, follow this link.
If you Senator(s) are listed below, follow this link to call or write them to thank them for signing the bi-partisan Isakson-Feinstein Peace Corps funding letter!
Senators who signed the Isakson-Feinstein Peace Corps Funding Letter
Dianne Feinstein (co-author)
Johnny Isakson (co-author)
Chris Van Hollen
Catherine Cortez Masto
A record number of Representatives ask for an extra $40 million for the agency see more
A record number of 181 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter calling for a $40 million increase for the Peace Corps!
The letter, which was drafted by National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), was circulated by the three co-chairs of the House Peace Corps Caucus: RPCV Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), and fellow Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA).
172 Democrats (making up 73% of House Democrats) and nine Republicans signed the letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee for State/Foreign Operations requesting an increase in funding for the fiscal year that begins this coming October from $410.5 million currently to $450 million. Thirty-five new members of Congress also signed the letter.
NPCA advocates from all fifty states sent more than 2,000 messages to Congress in the past week, urging members to sign the letter.
Help keep our efforts going by investing in our advocacy program today!
Take Action - Say Thank You!
The following members of the House of Representatives signed the Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter. If your representative is listed below, contact them and say "thank you for signing the Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague letter."
- Terri Sewell
- Don Young
- Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen
- Ruben Gallego
- Raul Grijalva
- Karen Bass
- Ami Bera
- Julia Brownley
- Salud Carbajal
- Tony Cardenas
- Judy Chu
- Gilbert Cisneros
- Jim Costa
- Susan Davis
- Mark Desaulnier
- Anna Eshoo
- John Garamendi (co-author)
- Jimmy Gomez
- Katie Hill
- Ro Khanna
- Doug LaMalfa
- Barbara Lee
- Mike Levin
- Ted Lieu
- Zoe Lofgren
- Alan Lowenthal
- Doris Matsui
- Jerry McNerney
- Grace Napolitano
- Jimmy Panetta
- Scott Peters
- Katie Porter
- Harley Rouda
- Lucille Roybal-Allard
- Linda Sanchez
- Adam Schiff
- Jackie Speier
- Eric Swalwell
- Mark Takano
- Juan Vargas
- Maxine Waters
- Diana DeGette
- Joe Neguse
- Ed Perlmutter
- Joe Courtney
- Rosa DeLauro
- Jahana Hayes
- Jim Himes
- John Larson
- Lisa Blunt Rochester
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
- Eleanor Holmes Norton
- Kathy Castor
- Ted Deutch
- Alcee Hastings
- Al Lawson
- Stephanie Murphy
- Donna Shalala
- Darren Soto
- Frederica Wilson
- Sanford Bishop
- Hank Johnson
- John Lewis
- David Scott
- Michael F.Q. San Nicolas
- Tulsi Gabbard
- Cheri Bustos
- Sean Casten
- Danny Davis
- Bill Foster
- Jesus Garcia
- Robin Kelly
- Daniel Lipinski
- Bobby Rush
- Jan Schakowsky
- Brad Schneider
- Andre Carson
- Cynthia Axne
- Dave Loebsack
- Andy Barr
- John Yarmuth
- Garrett Graves (co-author)
- Cedric Richmond
- Jared Golden
- Chellie Pingree
- Anthony Brown
- Elijah Cummings
- Jamie Raskin
- Dutch Ruppersberger
- John Sarbanes
- David Trone
- William Keating
- Joseph Kennedy III (co-author)
- Stephen Lynch
- James McGovern
- Seth Moulton
- Richard Neal
- Ayanna Pressley
- Lori Trahan
- Debbie Dingell
- Dan Kildee
- Andy Levin
- Elissa Slotkin
- Angie Craig
- Jim Hagedorn
- Collin Peterson
- Bennie Thompson
- Emanuel Cleaver
- Susie Lee
- Dina Titus
- Ann McLane Kuster
- Chris Pappas
- Josh Gottheimer
- Andy Kim
- Tom Malinowski
- Donald Norcross
- Bill Pascrell Jr.
- Frank Pallone Jr.
- Donald Payne Jr.
- Mikie Sherrill
- Albio Sires
- Jeff Van Drew
- Deb Haaland
- Ben Ray Lujan
- Yvette Clarke
- Antonio Delgado
- Eliot Engel
- Adriano Espaillat
- Brian Higgins
- Hakeem Jeffries
- John Katko
- Carolyn Maloney
- Sean Patrick Maloney
- Gregory Meeks
- Joseph Morelle
- Jerry Nadler
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Kathleen Rice
- Thomas Suozzi
- Paul Tonko
- Nydia Velazquez
- Alma Adams
- G.K. Butterfield
NORTHERN MARIANAS ISLANDS
- Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
- Joyce Beatty
- Marcia Fudge
- Earl Blumenauer
- Suzanne Bonamici
- Peter DeFazio
- Brendan Boyle
- Mike Doyle
- Dwight Evans
- Brian Fitzpatrick
- Susan Wild
- Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon
- David Cicilline
- Jim Langevin
- Steve Cohen
- Colin Allred
- Joaquin Castro
- Lloyd Doggett
- Veronica Escobar
- Al Green
- Sheila Jackson Lee
- Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Marc Veasey
- Filemon Vela
- Peter Welch
- Don Beyer
- Gerald Connolly
- Donald McEachin
- Bobby Scott
- Abigail Spanberger
- Jennifer Wexton
- Suzan DelBene
- Denny Heck
- Pramila Jayapal
- Rick Larsen
- Kim Schrier
- Adam Smith
- Ron Kind
- Gwen Moore