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house Bill H.R. 2259

Should the Peace Corps Give Volunteers a Raise & Provide More Health and Safety Support?

Argument in favor

Peace Corps volunteers are an important part of American volunteer efforts abroad who improve the quality of life for many people in the developing world. They deserve a raise and this bill ensures their health and safety while they’re serving abroad.

Mark's Opinion
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07/10/2018
The Peace Corp is a uniquely American institution, it is one of many ways the United States engages both in diplomacy and humanitarian aid. Those who volunteer to join the Peace Corp are making great sacrifices for those less fortunate. It is a moral value system that ought to be supported and nurtured. Further the people and government of the United States should support and protect their citizens who are working over seas.
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Loi's Opinion
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07/10/2018
Perhaps if we paid people who truly are altruistic and have the spirit to give we should be giving them a raise. Awful lot of overpaid yes men in this world if you ask me.
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···
07/10/2018
These people put their lives on the line to help those in need all over the world. They deserve nothing but the best.
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Argument opposed

The Peace Corps is already making strides to improve health and safety for volunteers, who don’t need a raise. Alternatively, the Peace Corps should turned into a non-profit agency that doesn’t rely on federal taxpayer support.

Jeffrey's Opinion
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07/10/2018
This should ha shifted long ago into a non profit private entity. This is not the job of the Federal Government.
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bobo541's Opinion
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07/10/2018
I personally do not believe that this is the responsibility of the United States Federal Government.
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mjrblessed's Opinion
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07/10/2018
I believe the Peace Corps to be important but believe this should be responsibility of private enterprise.
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What is House Bill H.R. 2259?

This bill — known as the Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act — would increase monetary, medical, safety, and administrative support for Peace Corps volunteers. It’d increase the monthly pay rate for Peace Corps volunteers, require that they have access to medical facilities and a qualified Peace Corps Medical Officer at overseas outposts. Additionally, it’d require the Peace Corps to provide healthcare for returning volunteers with service-related conditions after the end of their service for 180 days while they wait for coverage through the Dept. of Labor to take effect.

Additionally, to improve volunteer safety, this bill would:

  • Mandate the provision of country-specific health and safety risk information to volunteers before they begin their Peace Corps deployments;

  • Provide better agency support for returned volunteers and victims of sexual assault and violence;

  • Improve policies and procedures for antimalarial drugs;

  • Increase disability payments for RPCVs that are disabled and unable to work due to service-related conditions;

  • Reauthorize and expand key provisions of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act to enhance the Peace Corps’ ability to assist and protect volunteers that have experienced sexual assault.

Regarding sexual assault, this bill would make the Office of Victim Advocacy in Health Corps headquarters permanent to support Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) who are subjected to violence. It would also make a number of changes to the Sexual Assault Advisory Council: 1) expanding its membership; 2) requiring that at least one council member have mental health field expertise, and 3) extended the council through October 1, 2023.

Finally, the administration-related parts of this bill would have the President of the Peace Corps conduct annual volunteer surveys through September 30, 2023 that are currently only required through September 2018; allow the Inspector General of the Peace Corps to hire an expert, consultant, or organization without regard to certain daily salary requirement; and require the Peace Corps to periodically report to Congress on volunteer access to health care benefits.

Impact

Peace Corps volunteers; and the Peace Corps.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2259

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2019-2023 period and wouldn’t significantly increase the deficit. However, it has no basis to assess the budgetary impact of how the Peace Corps may use the other authorities in this bill.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced this bill to ensure that Peace Corps volunteers are supported overseas:

“When young American Peace Corps volunteers head overseas, they must know that the U.S. government has their back. In 2011, Congress took a historic step in passing the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, but there is more work to be done. This bill will go even further to both keep volunteers healthy and to ensure that those who have experienced sexual assault have the assistance and protection that they need.”

After the bill’s passage in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in May 2018, Rep. Poe added:

“Far too often, our volunteers are injured, sexually assaulted, or contract severe diseases while serving overseas. This legislation will ensure that our angels abroad have access to qualified medical professionals (in-country) and extends protections for survivors of sexual assault. It also ensures that ill and/or injured volunteers do not have to spend months dealing with federal bureaucratic red tape just to receive the care they need and deserve. These young men and women sacrifice years of their lives to help people they never even met – they are the face of our country in places where America’s shining beacon of hope and liberty may not always shine so bright. Their service to our country should not turn into a nightmare that ruins or even ends their lives. It’s time we take a stand and take action for our volunteers who are some of the very best we have.”

The National Peace Corps Association and Health Justice for Peace Corps both support this legislation.

This bill has 61 cosponsors, including 43 Democrats and 18 Republicans.


Of NoteThe Peace Corps provides all serving volunteers with comprehensive healthcare: routine health care provided by a medical officer at each outpost, plus emergency care is provided as necessary, including medical evacuation to the U.S.

Recently, the issue came to light after the January 2013 death of Nick Castle, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer teaching in rural China who fell violently ill and died due to medical negligence and insufficient Peace Corps Medical Officer response to his condition. Since Nick’s death, the Peace Corps attempted to reform its operations, improve its efficiency, and increase support for volunteers in the field.

However, much remains to be done, and some of the Peace Corps’ problems require legislative fixes. For example, current laws restrict the Peace Corps from complying with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations regarding its administration of antimalarial medications to volunteers.

Similarly, although Congress mandated a number of reforms to address sexual assault in the Peace Corps in 2011, the Peace Corps, with the help of an advisory council comprised of experts in the sexual assault field, made progress toward establishing a comprehensive sexual assault policy — but there remains work to be done to ensure the new policy’s implementation at Peace Corps posts throughout the world.

On the safety and security front, volunteers’ safety and security has long been a prime concern of the Peace Corps program. In January 2010, two reports on 20/20 brought new attention to those issues: one concerning the 2009 murder of volunteer Kate Puzey in Benin, and the other addressing the rape of volunteers. The 20/20 reports catalogued failure of some Peace Corps staff to maintain whistleblower confidentiality, inaction in response to volunteer reports of threatening behavior, a lack of compassion for victims of crime, a tendency to blame the victim, and insensitivity to the parents of a crime victim.

Following the 20/20 reports and a House hearing on May 11, 2011, more rape victims came forward with stories suggesting disregard for victims and a possible institutional failure to offer adequate support. Ultimately, several pieces of legislation seeking to address this issue were introduced in the House and Senate in 2011. On November 21, 2011, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 was signed into law.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: osmanpek / iStock)

AKA

Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018

Official Title

To amend the Peace Corps Act to expand services and benefits for volunteers, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • EnactedOctober 9th, 2018
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed September 24th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
  • The house Passed July 10th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedMay 1st, 2017

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    The Peace Corp is a uniquely American institution, it is one of many ways the United States engages both in diplomacy and humanitarian aid. Those who volunteer to join the Peace Corp are making great sacrifices for those less fortunate. It is a moral value system that ought to be supported and nurtured. Further the people and government of the United States should support and protect their citizens who are working over seas.
    Like (86)
    Follow
    Share
    This should ha shifted long ago into a non profit private entity. This is not the job of the Federal Government.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Perhaps if we paid people who truly are altruistic and have the spirit to give we should be giving them a raise. Awful lot of overpaid yes men in this world if you ask me.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    These people put their lives on the line to help those in need all over the world. They deserve nothing but the best.
    Like (41)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course those that serve deserve a raise and a bill that ensures their health and safety-they are our best diplomats especially as non partisan representatives of US. They heal out PR.
    Like (22)
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    As someone going into the Peace Corps I think the more safety measures implemented the better. I don’t care for the money as I feel like most volunteers do it to help people but since it’s attached to a bill concerning volunteer safety then I’m all for it.
    Like (20)
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    This is a great organization doing great work. Please support them!
    Like (17)
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    As a returned Peach Corps volunteer I support improved health and safety measures.
    Like (15)
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    The Peace Corps has been highly successful in it’s mission. Continuation and expansion of support for this important program is crucial.
    Like (11)
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    Please vote yes for this
    Like (11)
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    The Peace Corp was started by JFK’s administration. It builds a strong sense of compassion, provides a true sense of communities coming together for the good of the community. It brings education to those in other countries and in the U.S., that otherwise would not be taught how to build/learn a skill set, both in building and medically. The terrific blessing to the Peace Corp worker is immeasurable. Please, vote yes! It’s a win/win all the way around.
    Like (10)
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    Make it happen. These folks go to out of the way places and do great things for the local populace. We are all alike in many ways- something I’ve gleaned in my world travels. It’s good to show that and to realize that.
    Like (10)
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    For sure. These people provide humanitarian services and place their lives at risk in foreign countries. No Brainer!!
    Like (10)
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    I personally do not believe that this is the responsibility of the United States Federal Government.
    Like (9)
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    YES YES, the Peace Corps is doing important work, not the least of which is repairing America’s reputation around the world. My brother served in the Corps in Guatemala, and I think the Peace Corps is dang important.
    Like (9)
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    As a returned Peace Corps Volunteer I support further funding for the important work we did and continue to do.
    Like (8)
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    The Peace Corps is already making strides to improve health and safety for volunteers, who don’t need a raise. Alternatively, the Peace Corps should turned into a non-profit agency that doesn’t rely on federal taxpayer support.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    I believe the Peace Corps to be important but believe this should be responsibility of private enterprise.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    Peace Corps volunteers are an important part of American volunteer efforts abroad who improve the quality of life for many people in the developing world. They deserve a raise and this bill ensures their health and safety while they’re serving abroad.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes. Why is this a question?
    Like (6)
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