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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Peace Corps: Current Issues

Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs


Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps has sought to meet its legislative mandate of promoting world peace and friendship by sending American volunteers to serve at the grassroots level in villages and towns in all corners of the globe. About 7,671 volunteers currently serve in 77 nations. 

In 2010, the 111th Congress is considering the President's annual funding request for the Peace Corps, efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps, and related issues. On February 1, the Obama Administration issued its FY2011 budget request, proposing $446.2 million for the Peace Corps, a 12% increase over the FY2010-appropriated level of $400 million (H.R. 3288, P.L. 111-117). On June 30, 2010, the House State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee marked up a draft FY2011 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, providing $446.2 million for the Peace Corps, matching the Administration request and $46.2 million above the previous year's level. On July 29, 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3676 (S.Rept. 111-237), the FY2011 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations, providing $420.15 million for the Peace Corps, $20 million more than the previous year's appropriation and $26 million less than the Administration request. 

The last Peace Corps authorization (P.L. 106-30), approved in 1999, covered the years FY2000 to FY2003. On June 10, 2009, the House approved H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2010 and 2011 (H.Rept. 111-136). Title VI of the act contains several Peace Corps provisions, including authorization of an appropriation level in FY2011of "such sums as may be necessary." The Senate has not addressed this legislation. On April 27, 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported S. 2971, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2010- 2011. It incorporates most of the language of the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009, introduced as S. 1382 on June 25, 2009, and reported out of the committee on April 13, 2010 (S.Rept. 111-219). It would authorize funding for the Peace Corps at "such sums as may be necessary." 

A comprehensive assessment of Peace Corps operations was published in June 2010. It makes 64 recommendations supporting a six-point strategy to be implemented in the coming years. 

Current issues include the extent to which there is available funding for Peace Corps expansion, whether the Peace Corps has the institutional capacity to expand, and whether volunteers are able to function in a safe and secure environment.



Date of Report: August 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RS21168
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Peace Corps: Current Issues

Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs


Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps has sought to meet its legislative mandate of promoting world peace and friendship by sending American volunteers to serve at the grassroots level in villages and towns in all corners of the globe. About 7,671 volunteers currently serve in 77 nations. 

In 2010, the 111th Congress is considering the President's annual funding request for the Peace Corps, efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps, and related issues. On February 1, the Obama Administration issued its FY2011 budget request, proposing $446.2 million for the Peace Corps, a 12% increase over the FY2010-appropriated level of $400 million (H.R. 3288, P.L. 111-117). On June 30, 2010, the House State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee marked up a draft FY2011 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, providing $446.2 million for the Peace Corps, matching the Administration request and $46.2 million above the previous year's level. On July 29, 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3676 (S.Rept. 111-237), the FY2011 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations, providing $420.15 million for the Peace Corps, $20 million more than the previous year's appropriation and $26 million less than the Administration request. 

The last Peace Corps authorization (P.L. 106-30), approved in 1999, covered the years FY2000 to FY2003. On June 10, 2009, the House approved H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2010 and 2011 (H.Rept. 111-136). Title VI of the act contains several Peace Corps provisions, including authorization of an appropriation level of in FY2011. The Senate has not addressed this legislation. On April 27, 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported S. 2971, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2010-2011. It incorporates most of the language of the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009, introduced as S. 1382 on June 25, 2009, and reported out of the committee on April 13, 2010 (S.Rept. 111-219). It would authorize funding for the Peace Corps at "such sums as may be necessary." 

A comprehensive assessment of Peace Corps operations was published in June 2010. It makes 64 recommendations supporting a six-point strategy to be implemented in the coming years. 

Current issues include the extent to which there is available funding for Peace Corps expansion, whether the Peace Corps has the institutional capacity to expand, and whether volunteers are able to function in a safe and secure environment.



Date of Report: August 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RS21168
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

Amy Belasco, Coordinator
Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget

Daniel H. Else
Specialist in National Defense

Bruce R. Lindsay
Analyst in Emergency Management Policy

Rhoda Margesson
Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy

Kennon H. Nakamura
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

Maureen Taft-Morales
Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs


The Administration requested $64.0 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: 

• $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); 

• $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan; $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related reconstruction and foreign aid; 

• $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; 

• $13.4 billion to compensate veterans exposed to Agent Orange; 

• $600 million for border security; and 

• $3.4 billion to settle court cases about trust claims of American Indians (Cobell) and $1.2 billion for discrimination claims of black farmers (Pigford II). 

Much of the debate about this year's supplemental focused on the effect on the deficit of additional spending. Under budget rules, Congress does not offset spending that is designated as emergency. So much of the debate has focused on what types of spending are appropriately emergency spending, and offsetting non-emergency spending. Offsets can come from either rescissions, which cancel prior year budget authority (BA), and then apply that BA to new spending, reducing the amount of new budget authority required, or mandatory program savings. 

On March 23, 2010, the House passed H.R. 4899, the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act with $5.1 billion to replenish FEMA's Disaster Assistance Fund, $600 million for a Labor Department summer jobs program, offset by $600 million in rescissions so that the bill required $5.1 billion in new budget authority (BA). On May 26, 2010, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) scheduled a markup of a draft bill with $84.8 billion in new BA, but that markup was cancelled. 

On May 27, the Senate passed its version of H.R. 4899 by a vote of 67-28, with $59.9 billion in funding for disaster assistance, war funding, Haiti relief, and new VA benefits, with no additional domestic spending, and without the $4 billion for the two court cases, which was earlier but is no longer included in H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010. With rescissions, the Senate version required $58.9 billion in new budget authority. 

On July 1, 2010, the House passed its amended version of the bill with $81.8 billion including funds for disaster assistance, wars, Haiti relief, preventing teacher layoffs, agricultural and energy loans, and Pell Grants in discretionary spending as well as mandatory funding for new VA benefits and the two court cases. With $12.2 billion in rescissions and 10-year savings of $4.5 billion in mandatory savings over 10 years from lower government drug prices, that bill would require $65.1 billion in new BA. On July 22, 2010, after a cloture vote in the Senate failed by 46 to 51, the House July-amended version was sent back to the House. The House is now considering the Senate May version of the bill under suspension of the rules on July 27, 2010. 

The Defense Department, the State Department, FEMA, and the court plaintiffs have all cited funding deadlines but there may be flexibility in these dates. Relying on all available funding, DOD may cover its war costs until sometime in August. 
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Date of Report: July 27, 2010
Number of Pages: 91
Order Number: R41232
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Abortion and Family Planning-Related Provisions in U.S. Foreign Assistance Legislation and Policy

Luisa Blanchfield
Specialist in International Relations

This report details legislation and policies that restrict or place requirements on U.S. funding of abortion or family planning activities abroad. The level and extent of federal funding for these activities is an ongoing and controversial issue in U.S. foreign assistance and will likely continue to be a point of contention during the 111th Congress. 

These issues have been debated for over three decades in the context of a broader domestic abortion controversy that began with the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which holds that the Constitution protects a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy. Since Roe, Congress has enacted foreign assistance legislation placing restrictions or requirements on the federal funding of abortions and on family planning activities abroad. Many of these provisions, often referred to by the name of the lawmakers that introduced them, have been included in foreign aid authorizations, appropriations, or both, and affect different types of foreign assistance. Examples include 

• the "Helms amendment," which prohibits the use of U.S. funds to perform abortions or to coerce individuals to practice abortions; 

• the "Biden amendment," which states that U.S. funds may not be used for biomedical research related to abortion or involuntary sterilization; 

• the "Siljander amendment," which prohibits U.S. funds from being used to lobby for or against abortion; 

• the "Kemp-Kasten amendment," which prohibits funding for any organization or program that, as determined by the President, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization; and 

• the "Tiahrt amendment," which places requirements on voluntary family planning projects receiving assistance from USAID. 

The executive branch has also engaged in the debate over international abortion and family planning. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued what has become known as the "Mexico City policy," which required foreign non-governmental organizations receiving USAID family planning assistance to certify that they would not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning, even if such activities were conducted with non-U.S. funds. The policy was rescinded by President Bill Clinton and reinstituted by President George W. Bush. It was rescinded by President Barack Obama in January 2009 and remains a controversial issue in U.S. foreign assistance. 

This report focuses primarily on legislative restrictions and executive branch policies related to international abortion and family planning. For information on domestic abortion laws and international population assistance, including funding levels and U.S. programs, see 

• CRS Report RL33467, Abortion: Legislative Response, by Jon O. Shimabukuro, and 

• CRS Report RL33250, International Population Assistance and Family Planning Programs: Issues for Congress, by Luisa Blanchfield.


Date of Report: August 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R41360
Price: $29.95

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)

Julie M. Whittaker
Specialist in Income Security

Alison M. Shelton
Analyst in Income Security


Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available only to those individuals who have become unemployed as a direct result of a declared major disaster. First created in 1970 through P.L. 91-606, DUA benefits are authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Relief Act (the Stafford Act), which authorizes the President to issue a major disaster declaration after state and local government resources have been overwhelmed by a natural catastrophe or, "regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion in any part of the United States" (42 U.S.C. 5122(2)). 

The DUA program provides income support to individuals who become unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits. DUA is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) through each state's UC agency. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5, ARRA, or "the 2009 stimulus package") contained one provision affecting unemployment DUA benefits. ARRA temporarily increased unemployment benefits by $25 per week for all recipients of regular UC, Extended Benefits (EB), Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs, and DUA. DUA beneficiaries are not eligible to receive EUC08 benefits. 

The Deepwater oil spill has not been declared a major disaster under the Stafford Act; thus, workers who have lost their jobs on account of the spill are not eligible for DUA. 

This report contains information on how to ascertain if an individual is eligible for DUA benefits.



Date of Report: July 29, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS22022
Price: $29.95

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