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 2015, about 6,919 volunteers were serving in 63 nations. In 2016, the 114th Congress will consider the President’s annual funding request for the Peace Corps, changes to the Peace Corps authorization legislation, and related issues.
On December 18, 2015, the President signed into law H.R. 2029 (P.L. 114-113), the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2016, providing the Peace Corps with $410 million in FY2016, matching the Administration request and an 8% increase over the FY2015 level.
On February 9, 2016, the Administration submitted its FY2017 budget request, providing $410 million for the Peace Corps, the same level as in FY2016.
The last Peace Corps funding authorization (P.L. 106-30), approved in 1999, covered the years FY2000 to FY2003. On November 21, 2011, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 was signed into law (P.L. 112-57). It put 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 made 64 recommendations supporting a six-point strategy that was adopted by the agency and has guided agency actions since then. In March 2014, the Peace Corps published its strategic plan for the years FY2014 through FY2018. It contains strategic objectives and performance goals associated with them that will also guide the agency in the next few years.
Current issues include the extent to which there is available funding for Peace Corps expansion, whether volunteers are able to function in a safe and secure environment, volunteer access to abortion, and other issues.