On March 1, Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) reintroduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act. The Act would allocate more funding and resources to the Peace Corps and extend whistleblower protections to Peace Corps volunteers, according to Rep. Garamendi’s press release.
Along with allocating funds to the Peace Corps program and providing benefits to Peace Corps members whose service time was derailed due to the pandemic (among other actions), the bill would extend “whistleblower and anti-retaliatory protections that currently apply to Peace Corps contractors to Peace Corps volunteers, including protections against reprisals by any Peace Corps employee, volunteer supervisor, or outside contractor,” the press release states. Section 6 of the bill, “Whistleblower Protections for Volunteers,” spells out the anti-retaliation provisions for whistleblowers and provides more details about volunteers’ rights.
The bill’s original cosponsors are Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA), co-chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus, Grace Meng (D-NY), and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Ed Case (D-HI), and Albio Sires (D-NJ). The National Peace Corps Association and the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) have both endorsed the bill.
Reps. Garamendi and Graves co-chair the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus, and both Reps. Garamendi and Aumua Amata previously served in the Peace Corps. “My wife Patti and I owe so much to our service in the Peace Corps. It inspired a lifetime of public service that began in Ethiopia during the late 1960s and continued into state government in California, the Clinton Administration, and now the U.S. Congress,” Rep. Garamendi states in the press release. “Now more than ever, Congress must support the Peace Corps’ mission and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place.” Rep. Garamendi also states that this bipartisan bill would “provide the resources necessary for the redeployment of Peace Corps volunteers once it is safe to do so after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.”
The bill builds on the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 and the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 and “currently awaits action by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,” the press release states.
“Peace Corps volunteers represent what is best about our country,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director of the NWC. “They sacrifice so much to help communities improve their food security and achieve other important goals. This bill therefore provides overdue protection of their right to speak up when they observe corruption and abuse.”