Budget Agreement Allows Peace Corps To Expand; Gearan Says 8 Percent Increase Puts Agency on Path to 10,000 Volunteers
October 16, 1998Washington, D.C., October 16, 1998—The comprehensive budget agreement reached last night calls for an increase for the Peace Corps that will enable the agency to send more volunteers overseas, Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan said today. "The budget increase will allow us to capture the growing spirit of volunteer service across the country, giving hundreds more Americans the opportunity to serve and helping us meet increasing demands in the developing world," said Gearan. "The agreement puts us on the path to having 10,000 volunteers serving overseas, a goal of the Congress for the last 13 years." Under the terms of the budget agreement, the Peace Corps, with the strong backing of President Clinton and bipartisan support in Congress, will receive a budget increase of 8 percent, its largest increase in six years. Gearan said the increase, from $222 million in fiscal 1998 to $240 million this fiscal year, is a powerful affirmation of the contributions of 6,500 volunteers currently serving in 80 countries, as well as the work of more than 150,000 Americans who have joined the Peace Corps since 1961. In his first radio address to the nation on January 3, 1998, President Clinton said he would ask Congress to increase the Peace Corps' budget to enable the agency to meet the ambitious goal of recruiting, training, and supporting 10,000 volunteers. "In recent years, we have seen a significant resurgence of interest in Peace Corps service," Gearan said. "Last year, more than 150,000 Americans contacted the Peace Corps expressing interest in serving as volunteers. This is an increase of nearly 50 percent since 1994." Gearan said the Peace Corps has been fortunate to enjoy bipartisan support in Congress for many years, noting that there are three Democrats and three Republicans in Congress who served as Peace Corps volunteers, and Senator Paul Coverdell is a former Peace Corps Director. "We are grateful for the hard work and support that members of Congress of both parties have provided to the Peace Corps, which has enabled our volunteers to continue their good work overseas," Gearan said.