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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

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. As of end September 2012, about 8,073 volunteers were serving in 76 nations.

In 2012, the 112th Congress has considered the President’s annual funding request for the Peace Corps, efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps, and related issues. In February 2012, the Administration issued its FY2013 budget request, proposing $374.5 million for the Peace Corps, $500,000 less than the FY2012 level of $375 million approved in December 2011 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012 (Division I of P.L. 112-74, H.R. 2055). In September 2012, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (H.J.Res. 117, P.L. 112-175), was approved by Congress, providing FY2013 funding for the Peace Corps at the level in the FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74) plus .612%. The resolution expires on March 27, 2013.

The last Peace Corps funding authorization (P.L. 106-30), approved in 1999, covered the years FY2000 to FY2003. On July 21, 2012, 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. On July 27, 2011, Senator Kerry introduced S. 1426, the Foreign Relations Authorization for FY2012 and FY2013, including language authorizing $439.6 million for the Peace Corps in FY2012 and “such sums as may be necessary” for FY2013. Neither bill has received floor action.

On November 21, 2011, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 was signed into law (P.L. 112-57). It puts into place a number of safeguards to address and reduce the incidence of volunteer rape and sexual abuse.

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: October 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: RS21168
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