House Passes Peace Corps Reform BillPress Release
Washington, D.C. – The House today passed the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act (H.R. 2259), which enhances the transparency and accountability of the Peace Corps to improve operations and better protect volunteers.
Chairman Royce submitted the following remarks for the record:
“I rise today in support of H.R. 2259, the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act.
To serve in the United States Peace Corps is a worthy mission. The Peace Corps promotes cultural understanding and creates strong ties between volunteers and the communities they serve. I’ve often heard foreign leaders, particularly in Africa, reflect upon their own interactions with volunteers who taught English or helped establish a fishery in their village. And I’ve seen many returned volunteers become leaders in industry and government at home – including serving here in Congress. This bill is named after one of them, former Representative and returned Peace Corps volunteer Sam Farr.
But serving in the Peace Corps also involves risk. Volunteers are expected to adapt to unfamiliar areas and customs. They may face political instability or crime. And they are exposed to countless infectious and tropical diseases, often without access to reliable care. Too often, we hear stories of Peace Corps volunteers suffering from debilitating illnesses that could have been prevented, falling victim to sexual assault without justice, or even dying. This is why the bill also is named for Nick Castle, a young Peace Corps volunteer who died while serving in China from a completely treatable illness.
The bill before us today strengthens the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the Peace Corps by enacting a number of important reforms. It requires disclosures that will enable aspiring volunteers to better understand the risk they will face before they are deployed. The Peace Corps is not for everyone.
This legislation provides assurances to volunteers that qualified medical personnel will be accessible to them while serving overseas and here at home, should they experience a service-related injury or illness. And, importantly, it extends and expands upon a number of the provisions previously included in the Kate Puzey Act, which provides support to volunteers who have been victims of sexual assault.
Earlier this year, the Senate unanimously passed a similar version of the legislation. We have been working closely with the House sponsors, the administration, advocacy groups and our colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this important legislation can be enacted without further delay. I would like to thank the lead sponsor in the House, Judge Poe, for his steadfast commitment throughout this process. I would also like to acknowledge the important work of the Committees on Education and the Workforce and Oversight and Government Reform, without whom we could not consider this bill today.
I urge Members to support this bill.”