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Peace Corps Reauthorization Act

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    A bipartisan show of support for the most comprehensive Peace Corps legislation in a generation see more

    In a bipartisan show of support, ten former Peace Corps Directors who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations alike call on the Senate to pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act. The most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in a generation, it would bring important reforms and support for Volunteers as the agency seeks to meet the needs of a changed world.

     

    Press Release

     

    Today, 10 former Peace Corps Directors who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), calling on them to pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (S. 4466). 

    These bipartisan former Peace Corps Directors specifically asked the Senate to move the legislation, co-authored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member James Risch (R-ID), either as an amendment to the pending National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (NDAA) or independently. 

    The letter was also shared with key senators who have a decision-making role in this process. They are Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chair, Foreign Relations Committee; Senator James Risch (D-ID), Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chair, Armed Services Committee; Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee; Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chair, Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee; and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member, Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. 

    The legislation has already unanimously passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Its House of Representatives companion legislation (H.R. 1456), authored by Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA), passed the full House on September 19 with a strong bipartisan vote of 290–115. The Senate legislation currently has 15 co-sponsors, including six Republicans, and if the legislation becomes law, it will be the first full reauthorization of the Peace Corps since 1999. 

    The former Directors wrote this letter now, as amendments to be considered for the FY23 NDAA are currently being vetted, with floor votes likely to occur after the midterm elections.

    This is the time for this critical legislation to become law, so that the Peace Corps can remain a strong force for U.S. global leadership and strengthen connections with the world. The former directors unanimously called on the Senate to meet the moment and pass this legislation during this Congress.

    The legislation will provide multiple reforms and improvements to the Peace Corps, including: 

    • Authorizing agency funding through 2027.
    • Increasing readjustment allowance to $375 minimum/month.
    • Suspending federal student loan interest during the duration of service.
    • Extending transitory health care coverage for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to two months.
    • Providing greater whistleblower protections.
    • Codifying two years of non-competitive eligibility (NCE) for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
    • Strengthening DEIA efforts at the Peace Corps.
    • Expanding Peace Corps eligibility to include U.S. citizens who are American Samoan.
    • Increasing Peace Corps Volunteers’ level of workers compensation.
    • Strengthening and extending the Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Advisory Council.

     

     


    Text of the Letter from Ten Former Peace Corps Directors to Senate Leadership

    View a PDF of the letter here.

     

     

    October 3, 2022


    The Honorable Chuck Schumer (D-NY)             
    Majority Leader                                                                      
    United States Senate                                              
     

    The Honorable Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Minority Leader
    United States Senate
     

    Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell: 

    We write to you as a bipartisan, unified group of former Peace Corps Directors to express our full support for the swift passage of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (S. 4466). We believe that now, with Volunteers returning to the field for the first time in two years, after being withdrawn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that the Peace Corps return with a renewed sense of purpose. That is what passage of this legislation will do. 

    If passed, this would be the first full reauthorization of the agency since 1999. It has been more than two decades since full reauthorization. Multiple reforms included in this bill are long overdue and urgently needed — both to solidify this core instrument of American soft power, and to ensure that the agency has the tools to meet the needs of a changed world. 

    Fortunately, this Congress is well positioned to pass this legislation and move it to President Biden’s desk for his signature. The companion version in the House, H.R. 1456, passed on September 19 in a strong bipartisan vote under suspension of the Rules. That bill was co-authored by Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA), with the former being the sole Returned Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in Congress. 

    In the Senate, the bill is jointly authored by the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and James Risch (R-ID). It has already been unanimously passed out of committee on a voice vote and currently has six Republican and nine Democratic cosponsors. It is a well-crafted bill that reflects strong bipartisan input and ideas. 

    It is this demonstration of strong bipartisan support that gives us hope that the bill can be passed this Congressional session. Doing so would be a testament to America’s enduring bipartisan commitment to those who serve abroad on behalf of our country. As you both know, the Peace Corps was founded in 1961 with a vision of promoting American values and expertise around the world — and to then bringing back home to our communities deeper global understanding through lessons learned by our Volunteers. 

    More than 240,000 of our fellow citizens have answered the call to serve as Peace Corps Volunteers, advancing our nation’s security during turbulent times overseas. We therefore ask that you do all that you can to ensure that the Senate version of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act moves forward, either as part of an existing legislative vehicle, such as the National Defense Authorization Act, or independently. With this act’s passage, we can move one step closer to having the type of Peace Corps that the American people deserve and that will ensure we work together effectively with partner nations around the world. 

     

    Sincerely, 

     

    Carol Bellamy (1993–95) Clinton Administration 

    Richard Celeste (1979–81) Carter Administration 

    Nicholas Craw (1973–74) Nixon Administration 

    Mark Gearan (1995–99) Clinton Administration 

    Carrie Hessler-Radelet (2014–17) Obama Administration 

    Josephine (Jody) Olsen (2018–21) Trump Administration 

    Mark Schneider (1999–2001) Clinton Administration 

    Ronald Tschetter (2006–09) George W. Bush Administration 

    Gaddi Vasquez (2002–06) George W. Bush Administration 

    Aaron Williams (2009–12) Obama Administration 

      


    READ MORE

    View a PDF of the the letter from former Peace Corps Directors to Senate Leadership.

    Read a summary and analysis of the Senate and House legislation.

     


    For more information, contact:

     

    Joel Rubin, Vice President for Global Policy and Public Affairs

      or

    Steven Boyd Saum, Director of Strategic Communications
     
    202-934-1532

    news@peacecorpsconnect.org
    www.PeaceCorpsConnect.org

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    And in October, the first Volunteers are expected to arrive in Viet Nam. see more

    Hundreds of Volunteers are now serving alongside communities across the globe. And later this month, the first group of Volunteers ever is expected to arrive in Viet Nam.

     

    By Dan Baker

    Image courtesy Peace Corps

     

    Peace Corps Volunteers are returning to serve alongside communities throughout the world. Hundreds of Volunteers have returned to more than 40 countries around the globe, with more returning in the weeks ahead. In the past couple weeks alone, in South America, Volunteers have returned to serve alongside communities in Guyana. They have arrived in South Africa. And they have returned to Mongolia

    These Volunteers’ work with local partners includes education to advance literacy, collaboration on community development, and efforts to nurture environmental stewardship and foster health and family-life education in local communities. Many are new Volunteers — and some, like Daniel Lindbergh Lang, waited two and a half years to return (in his case, to Mongolia) after being brought back to the U.S. because of COVID-19.

    In the most recent edition of WorldView magazine, we shared news of where Volunteers had returned. Here we’re delighted to share with you a full update showing where Volunteers have returnedand where they have been invited to return.

     

    Map courtesy Peace Corps. Additional editing by Orrin Luc

     

    We’re grateful for all of those in the Peace Corps community who have bolstered NPCA’s efforts to support evacuated Volunteers over the past two years. Working with NPCA, this community also helped lay the groundwork for new agency policies and legislation that will ensure a better, stronger, and more inclusive Peace Corps. You’ve raised your voices and provided critical financial support. 

    If you tuned in to our Annual General Membership Meeting last month, you heard some news that we’ve been eagerly awaiting for years: In October, the first cohort of Volunteers is expected to arrive in Viet Nam!

    Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn reiterated that point at a recent meeting with returned Volunteers who work in the federal government. You can watch that conversation here. It includes the update on the countries where Volunteers have returned — and where invitations are out for them to serve once more.

    In front of us now is the important task of ensuring that the U.S. Senate passes the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act — to bring home important reforms and better support for Volunteers. With Volunteers returning to service, it’s also important that Carol Spahn is confirmed as Peace Corps Director. To fuel these efforts, I hope you’ll join NPCA as a Mission Partner if you haven’t already. And, if you can, make a gift to ensure that we carry forward our work for a new generation of Volunteers.

     

    Welcoming the first Volunteers to return to South Africa in two years. Photo courtesy Peace Corps South Africa

     

    Where Volunteers Have Returned: Posts with Volunteers or Trainees

    (As of October 21, 2022)

    Albania & Montenegro (Peace Corps post includes both countries)

    Belize

    Benin

    Botswana

    Cambodia

    Colombia

    Costa Rica

    Dominican Republic

    Eastern Caribbean (Peace Corps post includes four countries: Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Grenada)

    Ecuador

    Eswatini

    Ghana

    Guatemala

    Guinea

    Guyana

    Jamaica

    Kenya

    Kosovo

    Kyrgyz Republic

    Lesotho

    Madagascar

    Mexico

    Mongolia

    Morocco

    Namibia

    North Macedonia

    Panama

    Paraguay

    Peru

    Rwanda

    Senegal

    Sierra Leone

    South Africa

    Tanzania

    The Gambia

    Togo

    Uganda

    Zambia


    Where Volunteers Have Been Invited to Serve 

    (as of October 21, 2022)

    Armenia

    Cameroon

    Fiji

    Georgia

    Indonesia

    Liberia

    Malawi

    Nepal

    The Philippines

    Samoa

    Thailand

    Timor-Leste

    Viet Nam

     


    DAN BAKER is Interim President & CEO of National Peace Corps Association. He served as a Volunteer in Bolivia (1999–2002) and Timor Leste (2002–03), and has served on Peace Corps staff in Washington, D.C., Costa Rica, and Ethiopia. Write him at  president@peacecorpsconnect.org.
     

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    The House has just passed the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in a generation see more

    The House of Representatives has just passed the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in a generation.

     

    Press Release
     

    Washington, D.C. — National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) strongly applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456). This bill is crucial for the future of the Peace Corps as a new generation of Volunteers returns to service. If it ultimately becomes law, it will be the first full reauthorization of the Peace Corps since 1999. More than 240,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

    The bill’s lead author is Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), the sole Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) in Congress; his co-author is Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), a longtime Peace Corps champion. Their bipartisan leadership in support of the Peace Corps is a powerful testament to the enduring backing of the American people for volunteer service abroad. The strong bipartisan vote today only affirms this backing.

    NPCA Board of Directors Chair John Lee Evans said upon the passage of the legislation: “This legislation does what many in the Peace Corps community have been demanding for years. It authorizes critical agency funding; increases readjustment allowance for RPCVs; extends transitory health care coverage for RPCVs; provides greater whistleblower protections for RPCVs; increases Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) for RPCVs; strengthens DEIA efforts at the Peace Corps; expands Peace Corps eligibility to include U.S. citizens who are American Samoan; provides a modest increase for Peace Corps Volunteers’ level of workers compensation; strengthens and extends the work of the Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Advisory Council; and authorizes Virtual Service. These are the kinds of visionary reforms that will ensure a strong Peace Corps, one that advances American goals abroad and strengthens our peoples’ connections to the world.”

     

    “These are the kinds of visionary reforms that will ensure a strong Peace Corps, one that advances American goals abroad and strengthens our peoples’ connections to the world.”

         — John Lee Evans, NPCA Board Chair

     

    NPCA Interim President Dan Baker also said: “Today the RPCV community stands united in gratitude for the leadership shown by the Congress in getting this bill one step closer to the President’s desk. Our longtime House champions Rep. John Garamendi and Garret Graves deserve deep applause for their vision in moving this bill forward. I’d also like to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) for their unwavering support, as well as Vice Chairs Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) for their strong commitment to a reformed and revitalized Peace Corps. This bill, which has companion legislation in the Senate moving forward, will strengthen Americans’ ability to serve around the world and the impact of Peace Corps’ efforts overall.”
     

     

    About National Peace Corps Association

    National Peace Corps Association is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the goals of the Peace Corps. NPCA is a mission-driven social impact organization that encourages and celebrates lifelong commitment to Peace Corps ideals. NPCA supports a united and vibrant Peace Corps community—including current and returned Peace Corps Volunteers, current and former staff, host country nationals, family, and friends—in our efforts to create a better world. 


    For more information, contact:

    Steven Boyd Saum, Director of Strategic Communications
        or 
    Joel Rubin, Vice President for Global Policy and Public Affairs

    202-934-1532

    news@peacecorpsconnect.org
    www.PeaceCorpsConnect.org

     September 19, 2022