On March 1, Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) reintroduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, or H.R. 1273. The bipartisan bill will provide whistleblower protections to Peace Corps Volunteers, among other things.
The bill “[e]stablishes protections against reprisal and retaliation for Peace Corps Volunteers,” the press release states. The bill will also include more benefits for Volunteers who had their service ended by the COVID-19 pandemic and “[direct] the Peace Corps and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to update plans and protocols for Peace Corps Volunteer safety and security.”
1999 is the last year that Congress reauthorized the Peace Corps, and this reauthorization expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2003. According to the press release, the bill is now awaiting action by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Rep. Garamendi said that the bill “provides much-needed resources to Peace Corps Volunteers” and “would also provide the resources necessary for the redeployment of the Peace Corps Volunteers, with the goal of reaching 10,000 Volunteers serving annually around the world.”
“Original cosponsors of the reintroduced House version of the legislation include Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Garret Graves (R-LA), who co-chairs the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus with Congressman Garamendi; and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS),” the press release states.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Chairman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “I welcome my House colleagues’ re-introduction of our legislation to reauthorize the Peace Corps, which I plan to reintroduce in the Senate.”
Siri Nelson, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, commented to WNN: “The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act includes critical improvements that would help Peace Corps volunteers who blow the whistle. And, it addresses issues with malaria medications which were exposed by whistleblower Sara Thompson.”
“However, the law does not go far enough to create a system where volunteers have the economic stability they need to be able to truly engage in effective oversight. Or, have meaningful damages when the agency fails them,” Nelson added. “I truly wonder why Congress has shown so little support for these courageous and altruistic souls.”