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 8,655 volunteers currently serve in 77 nations.
In 2011, the 112th Congress is considering the President’s annual funding request for the Peace Corps, efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps, and related issues. In February 2011, the Obama Administration issued its FY2012 budget request, proposing $439.6 million for the Peace Corps, a 10% increase over the FY2010-appropriated level of $400 million (H.R. 3288, P.L. 111-117) and a 17% increase over the final FY2011 appropriation of $374.3 million (H.R. 1473, P.L. 112- 10). The FY2011 appropriation follows a series of continuing resolutions and an across-the-board .2% rescission. It represents a cut of 6% for the Peace Corps from the previous year. On July 27, the State, Foreign Operations subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations marked up an FY2012 bill, providing $374.3 million for the Peace Corps, equal to the FY2011 level. The full committee is expected to take up the bill in September.
The last Peace Corps authorization (P.L. 106-30), approved in 1999, covered the years FY2000 to FY2003. On July 21, the House Foreign Affairs Committee reported H.R. 2583, the Foreign Relations Authorization for FY2012, which includes language authorizing $375 million for the Peace Corps in FY2012 as well as provisions addressing Peace Corps safety and security.
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.
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