Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), a returned Peace Corps volunteer, released the following statement today after his Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009 was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“For 49 years, the Peace Corps has inspired volunteers to step outside their comfort zones and represent their country by helping people across the world,” said Dodd. “Americans of all ages have left their friends and families to serve overseas as ambassadors of goodwill –rebuilding countries ravaged by war and natural disasters, caring for the sick and impoverished, and empowering communities with the skills they need to live a more prosperous life. Today, the Foreign Relations Committee took a historic step by passing a bill that will bring the Peace Corps into the 21st Century by building on its long history of success and expanding its reach and impact.”
The Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009 aims to double the size of a reformed, streamlined and more effective Peace Corps. The bill will require the Peace Corps to engage in a strategic assessment of its current operations, from volunteer recruiting, training and management to the distribution of volunteers around the world. The Peace Corps will then be required to create one-year and five-year strategic plans based on the assessment in order to reform, modernize, and grow the agency. The legislation has 14 cosponsors.
Dodd, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Global Narcotics Affairs, introduced the legislation last year. Since his election to the House of Representatives in 1974 and Senate in 1980, Dodd has been the leading voice on the Peace Corps, using his personal experiences to inspire others to volunteer and to encourage the expansion of missions to other countries.