WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata is hailing House passage of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, H.R. 1456, on which she is one of the seven original cosponsors. Notably for the Pacific region, the bill includes a requirement for a Peace Corps report to Congress on the presence and planning of the Peace Corps in the Pacific Islands, along with a strategy and proposed timetable for expanding to more places in the Pacific, and consultations with these nations.
The bipartisan bill, endorsed by the National Peace Corps Association, is led by Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA), co-chairs of the Peace Corps Caucus, with Congresswoman Aumua Amata (American Samoa), Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN), Congressman Ed Case (D-HI), and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). Since their introduction of the bill, it gathered the public support of over 100 additional Members of the House.
Amata was a former Peace Corps staffer (Northern Mariana Islands 1967-1968), and the interest later extended to her family, as one of Amata’s daughters, Kirsten, is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Bulgaria. Congressman Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-1968) is a returned Peace Corps volunteer.
The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act provides additional federal funding and resources to advance the Peace Corps’ mission around the world and better support current, returning, and former Peace Corps volunteers, covering the next several years. Among the key improvements are an increase of 60 days of health insurance following service for returning volunteers, along with expanded whistleblower protections.
“The Peace Corps is a wonderful program, and I’m delighted to see a reauthorization pass the House,” said Amata. “The volunteers learn so much and often look back on those two years as some of the most important of their lives, and the program benefits people wherever these volunteers serve. Congratulations to Congressmen Garamendi and Garret Graves upon passage. I am hopeful that reauthorization and increases lead to continued restoration of programs in the Pacific.”
In July, Amata with a group of U.S. Senators and Representatives advocated for expanding and renewing Peace Corps efforts in the Pacific region. In a letter to the Director of the Peace Corps, Carol Spahn, the Members of Congress affirmed support for reopening in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu. The region once included 13 Peace Corps programs, including those four, and previous efforts in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federates States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.
The lawmakers stated: “Peace Corps volunteers everywhere play a key role in strengthening the people-to-people ties between the United States and their host countries. The renewal of and return to in-person programs can be a starting point for greater Peace Corps presence in the Pacific Islands, which promotes a strong, vibrant, and resilient region.” (PR)