President Clinton Hails Bill to Expand Peace Corps; More Americans Will Have Opportunity to Serve Overseas
May 24, 1999Washington, D.C., May 24, 1999—At an event in Washington tonight celebrating national service, President Clinton hailed legislation he signed that would expand the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers. Speaking at Howard University at an event hosted by CityYear, Clinton noted in his remarks that, under a funding authorization bill he signed on Friday, 10,000 Peace Corps volunteers would be serving overseas by 2003, "the highest number in a generation." Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan was among the leaders of service organizations who attended the event.
The bill, which calls for a 50 percent increase in the Peace Corps' budget and the number of volunteers over the next four years, is based on an initiative that Clinton proposed in his first radio address of 1998. In March, the House of Representatives voted 326-90 to authorize funding for a boost in the number of Peace Corps volunteers from 6,700 today to more than 10,000 in the year 2003. The Senate voted unanimously in favor of the legislation on May 12. Gearan praised the President and Congress for their leadership and support of the bill. "This bill is the culmination of more than two years of hard work of many people, both in the Administration and the Congress, and is a reflection of the bipartisan support that the Peace Corps continues to enjoy," said Gearan. President Clinton said in a written statement upon signing the bill that "This legislation represents a major step toward a goal that the Congress established for the Peace Corps in 1985, and that I reaffirmed in January 1998: expanding the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers."
The President also praised Americans who serve in the Peace Corps. "The Peace Corps and the women and men who serve our country as volunteers embody some of our finest traditions and values—a spirit of service, a strong sense of altruism, and an enduring commitment to make the world a better place. Peace Corps volunteers have touched the lives of many people in more than 130 countries, and every American can take great pride in their service. This bill will help ensure that many more of our citizens can offer their skills and serve our country as Peace Corps volunteers," he said. Gearan said that passage of the legislation is another sign of the resurgent interest in the Peace Corps, and he thanked President Clinton and members of Congress from both parties for their support. Gearan also noted that by the end of September 1999, the Peace Corps will field 7,400 volunteers, the highest number in 25 years.