GOP senator’s legislation would pull Peace Corps out of China | TheHill

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dale Gilles (Liberia 1964-67), (PC/W 1968-73), (Liberia APCD 1973-75), (PC/W 1991-93)

BY JOHN BOWDEN – 

The Peace Corps will cease operations in China and shift to become an arm of the State Department if a bill filed by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Tuesday is passed.

Scott’s bill, titled the Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act, would shift the agency from the executive branch to become a sub-agency of the State Department, overseen by the secretary of state.

The bill would also immediately direct the organization to end aid efforts in China, where agency volunteers teach English in Chinese schools.

“The Peace Corps has an honorable mission of promoting freedom and spreading American ideals to developing countries around the world. We want the Peace Corps to do good work across the globe — just not with our enemies like China,” Scott said in a press release.

Scott’s bill “provides the oversight necessary to make sure all Peace Corps activities are in line with our national security interests and in underdeveloped countries that truly need our help — not wealthy nations like China. This is about protecting both taxpayer money and the American people,” he added.

If passed, Scott’s bill would prohibit the organization from any future operations in countries deemed “hostile to the United States” and would direct the agency to operate “in line with the foreign policy goals of the United States.”

Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps has operated in 141 countries around the world on a wide variety of issues including business development, disease eradication and agricultural services.

 

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  • If passed on Tuesday by the Senate, the bill becomes law? While I was sleeping, did the constitution get changed? Maybe I misunderstood it. Article 1, Section 7 states that “every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate…” If Rick Scott just proposed it in the Senate recently, it has not been acted upon by the House.

  • Here is a link provided by the NPCA to contact your sentators to oppose this: https://advocacy.peacecorpsconnect.org/email-congress#/50

    Lorenzo,
    The Senator has introduced the legislation. It is NOT law. It has to go to a committee, be passed by the senate committee and then by the entire Senate. Then it would go to the House of Representatives. If they were to approve it, and I don’t think there is any change they would, then it would go to Trump for his signature.

  • Whew! Thank you, Joey. I knew that but the point is that the first sentence of this article is poorly written and misleading, reminding me of a Fox news broadcast.

    • You are right! it certainly grabs the attention. The back story is very interesting, which is covered in John’s first posting, which I linked above. Evidently, Senator Scott went to Director Jody Olsen and demanded that she close the program in China immediately and pull out all Volunteers. She refused, and rightly so. Scott had no authority to demand that. Next thing which happened was the legislation.

  • I met Jody Olsen at a PC shindig in Colorado when she was serving as an interim Director (I believe). She really impressed me.

  • Joanne, I’m flattered that something I wrote earlier was relevant to this “sorta-discussion”. Of course, Lawrence, we all know how bills become law. I hope you (Joanne) will keep us posted on the progress of this bill (or the link to the web-page that does that).

    I think that Sen Scott is fuddled on another item, and that is that there are THREE principal goals (or more correctly, “purposes”) of the Peace Corps, from the very beginning. AND, that it always has been a two-way proposition. Even fiscally, in both (actually four) of my assignments, it was the host country which provided my lodging, and much of my logistical back-up. It wasn’t really a one-way “Aid program” in the classical sense. Sen Scott obviously doesn’t “get it”.

    I often have wondered if a project could be launched, emphasizing only the Second and Third Goals, having to do with cross-cultural understanding. A sort of exchange program. I think it could be done. But the First Goal, the provision of needed, trained manpower (sorry, “people-power”) makes our presence there logical and understandable to local folks. And host countries in the past, always have, sensibly, insisted on this. And so much of the Second and Third Goals happens “after hours”.

    In that regard, I can only wish that people like Sen Scott had been there, when my African prospecting crew, on Pay-Day Friday, still scruffy from a fortnight’s hard work, hit the local village bar, like workmen everywhere,with money in their pocket(s), to celebrate. A time of role-reversals, when the boss ceased his role as authority, and the lowliest labourer could express his opinion — and suddenly assume a certain equality by buying the boss a glass of Star Beer.

    The racket quieted when I would deliver one of my lectures on world events. BUT when I fatuously begged authority and gave them a lecture on the way to a woman’s heart, I was drowned out by roars of inebriated laughter, and everybody wanting to add their two-bits. And a sort of “Fourth Goal” emerged sometimes, as members of different tribal groups felt free to debate with one another, and gain “understanding”.

    Crossing all cultural lines, it was definitely a “Man’s World”, those Friday Pay-Day evenings at the village bar. BUT, come Saturday Night, which always, worldwide, is a “Woman’s World”, and everybody is washed and groomed, and on best-behaviour, I suspect that some of the crew, upon reflection, might have tried some of my advice.

    People like Sen Scott never saw this side of Peace Corps presence, and the Second and Third Goals. Even Peace Corps planners, overlooked how much of the Second and Third Goals really happened “after hours”, and independent of the First Goal.

    I think the task before us RPCVs, is maybe to clarify to legislators like Sen Scott, what the Peace Corps, and cross-cultural understanding, really is all about. And the effect that “understanding” might have, particularly on those he feels are “hostile” to America — and Americans.

    John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment 1963-64-65

  • John, I certainly think you are right about emphasizing the second and third goals. Most people, Congress included, don’t understand what Peace Corps is or what Volunteers do. I don’t think Scott cares at all about PC. I think this is a political move and I hope it is isolated. However, Peace Corps’ independence is tempered by the fact everyone in the agency, from the Director to the Volunteer, serves at the “pleasure of the President”….and who knows what his “pleasure” is from one day to the next.

    I would hate to see Peace Corps become one more barginning chip.

    The National Peace Corps Association is based in Washington DC. They have two advocates who are well versed in legislative affairs and keep us all posted. I will forward whatever they send.

  • What memories, from those early days following African Independence.

    And like those Nyanja village children later in British Central Africa, following my prospecting crew through the bush; similarly in Ghana, on those Friday pay days, there always were little kids peering over the open window-sills of the village bar, at all these “grown-ups”, having a rollicking good time, and all differences, for the moment, ignored.

    Today all of my crew probably are now deceased, and those little kids today are elders, and hopefully have remembered that after hard work, there always was time for some good times and laughter. I hope, as a PCV, I contributed to some of that — as well as making wages for villagers, so they had something to celebrate with, come Saturday Night (and Friday !).

    What memories ! ! Where were you, Sen Scott ?

    John Turnbull

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