Amata Cosponsors Peace Corps Act and Highlights National Peace Corps Week
Washington, D.C. – Tuesday, Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata is an original cosponsor with Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) in introducing the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, as part of a bipartisan group of seven at introduction, including Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA), Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN), Congressman Ed Case (D-HI), and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). Their bill is endorsed by the National Peace Corps Association.
Notably, the reintroduction coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps’ founding, signed by President John F. Kennedy, and National Peace Corps Week. The next step for the bill is consideration by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Support for the Peace Corps includes personal experience for both Reps. Garamendi and Amata, as Congressman Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-1968) is a returned Peace Corps volunteer; Congresswoman Amata was a former Peace Corps staffer (Northern Mariana Islands 1967-1968), and the interest extended to her family, as one of Amata’s daughters, Kirsten, is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Bulgaria.
“The Peace Corps benefits the countries where volunteers serve, and those that go,” Amata said. “Those involved with the Peace Corps learn so much, and can apply that to all sorts of life paths afterwards. A full reauthorization of the Peace Corps is a priority, with specific needs due to the pandemic and recent years of flat funding. National Peace Corps Week is a wonderful reminder of the importance of service. Thank you to Congressmen Garamendi and Garret Graves for working on these issues year round as co-chairs of the Peace Corps Caucus.”
This picture of Amata was taken in Saipan during her time as a Peace Corps staffer.
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021 would provide additional federal funding and resources to advance the Peace Corps’ mission around the world and better support current, returning, and former Peace Corps volunteers.
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021 provides for the following:
- $600 million authorized in annual funding by fiscal year 2025 for the Peace Corps to support the goal of deploying 10,0000 volunteers worldwide. Congress currently provides $410 million, a rate that has been level in recent years.
- Expedites re-enrollment of volunteers whose service ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and allows volunteers to resume in-country service, once safe to do so.
- Directs the Peace Corps to provide benefits (readjustment allowance, health insurance, noncompetitive eligibility status for federal hiring) to volunteers whose service ended involuntarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Increases to 3 months of health insurance coverage for volunteers upon return at Peace Corps expense, with the option to renew for additional 3 months at individual expense.
- Provides for the Peace Corps to outline public and private health insurance coverage options to returned volunteers, including for returned volunteers under the age of 25 with coverage on their parent’s health insurance.
- Extends whistleblower and anti-retaliatory to Peace Corps volunteers, including guarding against reprisals by any Peace Corps employee, volunteer supervisor, or outside contractor.
- Extends Peace Corps volunteers’ 12-month hiring preference for most federal job openings during any federal hiring freeze, government shutdown, public health emergency (such as COVID-19 pandemic), or while a volunteer receives federal worker’s compensation benefits for any injury during their Peace Corps service.
- Directs the Peace Corps and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to update plans and protocols for Peace Corps volunteer security support and protection in foreign countries.
- Increases the federal workers’ compensation rate for all Peace Corps volunteers injured or disabled during their service from a GS-7 to a GS-11 level, the same rate provided for Peace Corps volunteers with dependent children under current law.
- Builds on or includes wholly several legislative efforts, including the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-256); the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011(Public Law 112-57); the Menstrual Equity in the Peace Corps Act, sponsored by Rep. Meng; and the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, sponsored by Rep. Sires.