Peace Corps funding

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Congress passed the act with bipartisan support in both houses late last year. see more

    Congress passed the act with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses late last year. On January 5 President Trump signed it into law.

     By Jonathan Pearson and Steven Boyd Saum 

     
    On January 5 the Peace Corps community got some much-hoped-for good news: President Trump signed into law H.R. 7460, the Peace Corps Commemorative Work Extension Act, which extends the authority of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation to establish a commemorative work on Federal lands in the District of Columbia to commemorate the mission of the Peace Corps and the ideals on which the Peace Corps was founded.

    Here is some background on the legislation.

      

    Congress Passed the Commemorative Time Extension

    Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Dominican Republic. After he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, one of the first pieces of legislation he introduced and passed provided congressional authorization for the creation of a Peace Corps Commemorative in Washington, D.C. On the afternoon of December 17, 2020, in the closing days of his fourth – and final – term in the House of Representatives, one of Congressman Kennedy’s final accomplishments included securing House passage of a time extension that will allow work on the commemorative to move forward without interruption. 

    Late on December 20, 2020, the United Sates Senate followed suit, quickly and unanimously approving the legislation.

    The Senate sponsors of companion legislation, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued a press releaseafter the Senate vote, paying tribute to Peace Corps Volunteers and praising the unanimous bipartisan support for the project. “

    For more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has served as a powerful vehicle for volunteers who wish to use their talents to carry America’s humanitarian values to other parts of the world,” said Senator Portman. “By reauthorizing this project, we can ensure the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation can finish this important project and honor those Americans who have donated their time and talent to serving others. I am pleased my colleagues in the Senate passed this important legislation so that it will now be sent to the president’s desk." 

     

    Watch: “A lasting tribute” — Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) pay tribute to the service of Peace Corps Volunteers over 60 years and ask for passage of the bill.


    The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation has made great progress on this project, with design selection, site selection near the National Mall, and unanimous approval by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in September on the revised design concept.
     

    Rendering of Peace Corps Commemorative at Peace Corps Park. Courtesy of Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation.

     

    “A lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps”

    Congressman Joe Kennedy’s departure marks the end of an era. Since 1947, a Kennedy has had a seat in Congress with only two brief interruptions. The first, Joe Kennedy’s great uncle John F. Kennedy, created the Peace Corps by executive order in March 1961.   

    Speaking on the House floor, Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) noted that it is fitting for the Peace Corps Commemorative legislation to be sponsored by President Kennedy’s grand-nephew. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said the commemorative will serve as a “lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps.”

    On December 9, Joe Kennedy delivered his farewell remarks to the House and spoke of how it is the task of each generation to expand the meaning of “we” in the phrase “We the people,” the opening words of the U.S. Constitution. “Our future is big and bright,” Kennedy said, “bit it will take everything — and everyone — to reach it.”

    “Today the House unanimously passed a seven-year Commemorative authorization extension, among Rep. Kennedy’s final bills before ending his House term," said Roger Lewis, President of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation. “Americans who have served as Volunteers, worked for the Peace Corps or share Peace Corps ideals and values, are profoundly grateful for Rep. Kennedy’s steadfast commitment to and support of the Peace Corps and its historic mission.”

     

    Congress Delivered a Funding Victory for the Peace Corps

    Significantly, Congress delivered a funding victory for Peace Corps in December as well: holding steady on funding as the agency prepares for redeployment of Volunteers in 2021 after an unprecedented global evacuation in 2020. In negotiations for a Fiscal Year 2021 spending package, Congress faced a choice of three very different routes: 

    1. Maintain level funding for the agency at $410.5 million, as it makes plans to begin redeploying Volunteers in 2021; this was the route recommended by the House of Representatives.
    2. Accept cuts of up to $51 million, trimming the budget to $359 million as was proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. 
    3. Agreeing to a compromise figure between the House and Senate recommendations.

    As both chambers prepared for votes on the evening of December 21, 2020 release of the agreed-upon spending document revealed that Congress would move forward with the House recommendation of level Peace Corps funding, which is critical for investing in efforts to ensure the health and safety of Volunteers and the communities where they serve.

    “We are extremely grateful to our Capitol Hill Peace Corps champions for their efforts to make sure Peace Corps remains strong with level funding to help it begin the process of redeploying thousands of Volunteers in the field,” said National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst. “I also want to thank the thousands of members of the Peace Corps community who wrote a letter, made a phone call, reached out to neighbors and friends, or took action through the media. The fight to sustain funding for Peace Corps is your victory.”

    That’s not the only victory in the closing days of this Congress.

     

    Access for Menstrual Hygiene Products for Volunteers

    After meeting with and speaking to female Peace Corps Volunteers, Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced legislation in March 2020 to ensure access to menstrual hygiene products for Volunteers. House Bill 6118 called upon Peace Corps to develop a comprehensive policy to ensure Volunteers needing such products have adequate access wherever they are serving. 

    While the legislation did not pass, what it was aiming for will guide Peace Corps’ work going forward: In the Fiscal Year 2021 State/Foreign Operations Appropriations package, language pertaining to this legislation was included in the final agreement. The language instructs Peace Corps to provide a strategy, within 90 days after passage of the legislation, to ensure all Volunteers who need feminine hygiene products have access to them, regardless of country of service. The language further states that the strategy shall take into consideration availability of products in-country, the price of those products, and the local cultural norms surrounding menstruation.

     

    Peace Corps Redeployment and Evacuees: Congress Overrode Presidential Veto January 1

    High on the congressional priority list for passage each year is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included in the 4,500 page document that has passed both chambers is reporting requirements pertaining to Peace Corps redeployment and Volunteers who were evacuated earlier in 2020.

    Introduced by Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN), the legislation calls for a report to Congress from Peace Corps three months after bill passage on efforts of the agency to:

    • Provide an update on offering a redeployed Peace Corps assignment to all evacuees who wish to continue service;
    • Obtain approval from countries of service to allow the return of Peace Corps Volunteers;
    • Provide adequate health and safety measures including COVID-19 contingency plans; and
    • Identify any need for additional appropriations or new statutory authorities and the changes in global conditions that would be necessary to achieve the goal of safely enrolling 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers during the one-year period beginning on the date on which Peace Corps operations resume.

    President Trump vetoed the NDAA on issues not related to Peace Corps. But Congress overrode the veto on January 1, 2021, ensuring the measure becomes law.
     


    Last Updated January 6, 2021 at 1:15 PM.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    A victory for the Peace Corps community. And urgent action needed for funding. see more

    Legislation introduced by Joseph Kennedy III will enable a project years in the making to be seen through to completion. Senators Portman and Shaheen call on their colleagues to pass the bill as well. But funding for the Peace Corps Agency is still at risk for 2021, with the Senate having put forth a $51 million cut.

     By Jonathan Pearson

     

    After Dominican Republic Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, one of the first pieces of legislation he introduced and passed provided congressional authorization for the creation of a Peace Corps Commemorative in Washington, D.C.On the afternoon of December 17, 2020 in the closing days of his fourth – and final – term in the House of Representatives, one of Congressman Kennedy’s final accomplishments included securing House passage of a time extension that will allow work on the commemorative to move forward without interruption.

    The Peace Corps Commemorative Work Extension Act (H.R. 7460) passed unanimously on a voice vote. Final passage of the legislation still needs Senate approval and a presidential signature to become law.

    The Senate sponsors of companion legislation, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued a press release after the House vote paying tribute to Peace Corps Volunteers and calling upon the Senate to pass the bill as well. “For more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has served as a powerful vehicle for volunteers who wish to use their talents to carry America’s humanitarian values to other parts of the world,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased that this legislation was approved by the House today, and I urge my Senate colleagues to support it so that it can head to the President’s desk for his signature.” 

     

     Watch: “A lasting tribute” — Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) pay tribute to the service of Peace Corps Volunteers over 60 years and ask for passage of the bill.


    The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation has made great progress on this project, with design selection, site selection near the National Mall, and unanimous approval by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in September on the revised design concept.

     

    Rendering of Peace Corps Commemorative at Peace Corps Park. Courtesy of Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation.

     

    “A lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps”

    Congressman Kennedy’s departure marks the end of an era. Since 1947, a Kennedy has had a seat in Congress with only two brief interruptions. The first, Joe Kennedy’s great uncle John F. Kennedy, created the Peace Corps by executive order in March 1961.   

    Speaking on the House floor, Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) noted that it is fitting for the Peace Corps Commemorative legislation to be sponsored by President Kennedy’s grand-nephew. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said the commemorative will serve as a “lasting tribute to the legacy of the Peace Corps.”

    On December 9, Joe Kennedy delivered his farewell remarks to the House and spoke of how it is the task of each generation to expand the meaning of “we” in the phrase “We the people,” the opening words of the U.S. Constitution. “Our future is big and bright,” Kennedy said, “bit it will take everything — and everyone — to reach it.”

    “Today the House unanimously passed a seven-year Commemorative authorization extension, among Rep. Kennedy’s final bills before ending his House term," said Roger Lewis, President of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation. “Americans who have served as Volunteers, worked for the Peace Corps or share Peace Corps ideals and values, are profoundly grateful for Rep. Kennedy’s steadfast commitment to and support of the Peace Corps and its historic mission.”

     

     

    Peace Corps Funding Under Threat

    As the 116th Congress races to a close, Peace Corps-related activities in need of congressional action include advocating for full funding for the agency in 2021.

    The current deadline for Congress to complete its work on a Fiscal Year 2021 spending plan is midnight Friday, December 18. There are signs Congress might pass another continuing resolution to extend that deadline into the weekend and possibly early next week. Among the many items at stake is Peace Corps’ budget. While the House recommended level funding of $410.5 million, the Senate put forth a $359 million allocation – a $51 million cut.

    Make your voices heard with your lawmakers to urge them to support level funding for Peace Corps.

    Click Here to Take Action

     

    Peace Corps Redeployment and Evacuees

    High on the congressional priority list for passage each year is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included in the 4,500 page document that has passed both chambers is reporting requirements pertaining to Peace Corps redeployment and Volunteers who were evacuated earlier in 2020.

    Introduced by Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN), the legislation calls for a report to Congress from Peace Corps three months after bill passage on efforts of the agency to:

    • Provide an update on offering a redeployed Peace Corps assignment to all evacuees who wish to continue service;
    • Obtain approval from countries of service to allow the return of Peace Corps Volunteers;
    • Provide adequate health and safety measures including COVID-19 contingency plans; and
    • Identify any need for additional appropriations or new statutory authorities and the changes in global conditions that would be necessary to achieve the goal of safely enrolling 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers during the one-year period beginning on the date on which Peace Corps operations resume.

    President Trump has indicated that he will veto the NDAA on issues not related to Peace Corps. The president has until December 23 to do so. Congress is contemplating strategies to overturn the veto should it be issued.
     


    Last Updated December 18, 2020 at 4 PM. Watch this story for updates.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    The President has proposed reduced Peace Corps funding for the third consecutive year. see more

    For the third consecutive year, President Trump is recommending a reduction in funding for the Peace Corps. The president's request of $396 million for the agency in Fiscal Year 2020 would represent a slightly more than three percent cut in funding.

    It has been more than 35 years since a president has proposed consistent cuts in Peace Corps funding to Congress.

    "It is disappointing that the President has recommended this cut in Peace Corps' funding, especially as the number of citizens applying for Peace Corps service continues to be far higher than the number of available positions," said National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. "Thankfully, Congress has spoken with a bipartisan voice to reject such cuts in the past. We hope they will do so again."

    The proposed reduction in Peace Corps spending was part of a much larger 24 percent cut to the nation's International Affairs Budget. The US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) called those level of cuts "dangerous and disproportionate." Read the full USGLC statement here.

     

    Taking Action for a Funding Increase

    On February 28th, 125 NPCA advocates traversed Capitol Hill to meet with congressional offices and recommend $450 million for Peace Corps for the fiscal year that begins next October 1. Peace Corps has been operating for the past four fiscal years with a budget of roughly $410 million.

    Nearly 1,000 messages have been sent to Congress so far during NPCA's National Days of Action.

    Tell Congress to support strong Peace Corps funding and promote other pending legislation.

    Contact william@peacecorpsconnect.org if you want to assist with upcoming advocacy mobilization concerning funding for the Peace Corps.

     

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Join events around the country in March to support the Peace Corps! see more

    National Peace Corps Association's (NPCA) March 1st Capitol Hill Day of Action to support a stronger and better Peace Corps is booked to capacity!

    But that's not all that is happening. Not even close.

    Our National Days of Action (that's right, days) is designed for all Peace Corps supporters to come together at a key moment on the calendar to: 

    • Make sure Peace Corps gets strong funding in the current (FY 2018) budget, as we also kick-off critical mobilization for FY 2019 Peace Corps and international affairs funding.
    • Make sure the best possible Peace Corps health and safety legislation passes in this 115th Congress by year's end.

    Get Ready to Take Action!

    If you don't do anything else for the rest of the year, now is the time to show your support for the Peace Corps. There are many ways to join the mobilization.

    • Right Now: Plan to Attend/Organize a Local Days of Action Event: Letter writing in Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Antonio and Honolulu. Meetings with lawmakers at their district offices in Buffalo, Jacksonville, Tuscaloosa and Kansas City. Visit our events page today to connect with a Days of Action activity in your area. Contact us if you want to organize an event in your area, or participate in Days of Action prep webinars in the coming days.
    • March 1st: As nearly 200 advocates and other supporters converge on Capitol Hill, back them up! Plan to visit our website to email or call your lawmakers urging positive action on the Peace Corps.
    • Ongoing: Our success requires your support! Make a donation of any amount to support NPCA's advocacy program.

    And, Updated State Resources!

    Has your Senator signed past Peace Corps funding letters? Is your Congressman/woman a co-sponsor of Peace Corps health/safety legislation? And, how many Peace Corps volunteers have served from your state since 1961? All of that information - and much, much more - can be found in our updated state resources!