The President’s FY 2011 budget request to Congress will be announced later today.  The budget, which will contain the administration’s request to Congress for the 2011 Peace Corps budget, is expected to contain an increase for foreign aid programs including Peace Corps but will it be enough to double the volunteer number as was promised during the Presidential campaign?  

Over 130 Congressmen and Congresswomen are supporting $600 million for FY 2011.  A press conference from OMB is expected at 11:30 AM and I’ll let you know as soon as we hear any news.  

But no matter what happens today, RPCVs need to get back to work today making calls and writing letters to their elected officials.   Even if the President’s budget comes in high, we still have to build the support in Congress to get it passed. Conversely, even if the budget request is miniscule, we can still get a large increase to Peace Corps.  President Obama’s announcement today won’t change our strategy much, though a high request would certainly help a lot.

Because of the grassroots energy last year, for the first time since 2002, a Peace Corps re-authorization bill was passed by the Congress, with a very bipartisan vote (318 to 106).  Ultimately, the final FY 2010 appropriation was $400 million - $60 million above the FY 2009 funding level and $26.6 million over the President’s ask.  We did it last year, and we can do it again.  And in addition to pushing Congress to sign Congressman Sam Farr’s Peace Corps funding Dear Colleague Letter (more on that soon), let’s keep reminding the Administration that it was a campaign promise to double the Peace Corps by 2011. We can’t let the President and VP off the hook on their promise to America and the world:

“To restore America’s standing, I will call on our greatest resources — not our bombs, guns or dollars — I will call upon our people. We will grow the Foreign Service to renew our commitment to diplomacy. We will double the size of the Peace Corps by its 50th anniversary in 2011. And we will reach out to other nations to engage their young people in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity.” 
– President Barack Obama, Speech at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, December 5, 2007 

We can do it.

-Rajeev
Rajeev@pushforpeacecorps.org 

P.S.  If you haven’t seen it already, please see this HuffingtonPost.com article printed last Thursday, January 28, 2010:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajeev-goyal/you-did-it-a-60m-increase_b_441319.html