Senate Committee Votes to Expand Peace Corps
March 24, 1999Washington, D.C., March 24, 1999—The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously last evening to expand the number of Peace Corps volunteers by nearly 50 percent, which would allow the agency to send the most volunteers overseas since the 1960s. The committee approved a bill authorizing an increase in the Peace Corps budget over the next four years that would boost the number of volunteers from 6,700 today to more than 10,000 in the year 2003, the highest level since the late 1960s. The bill, introduced earlier this month by Senators Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the chairman and ranking member of the Senate authorizing subcommittee, is a companion measure to one the House of Representatives approved by a 326-90 vote on March 3. Coverdell was director of the Peace Corps from 1989-91, and Dodd served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1966-68. Last year, President Clinton endorsed the goal of 10,000 Peace Corps volunteers, which Congress first formally approved in 1985. In October, Congress approved an 8 percent budget increase for the Peace Corps, for a total of $241 million, which will enable the agency to field 7,400 volunteers by the end of this fiscal year, the most in 25 years.