House Appropriations-proposed Peace Corps cuts would violate Obama's promise

As Congress and the White House prepare budgets for two fiscal years concurrently -- the Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains why there are two different budget debates, for FY2011 and FY2012, going on right now -- funding for the Peace Corps is one area that exemplifies the difficulties in reconciling the promises of candidate Barack Obama and the realities for President Obama.

The House Appropriations Committee’s Continuing Resolution for FY2011, released Friday, calls for $226.5 million in reductions to contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities. The Peace Corps would be losing out on $69.2 million in this fiscal year (ending Sept. 30, 2011), if the bill passes in the House next week. A detailed summary of the cuts can be found here (PDF).

On the other hand, President Barack Obama offered his proposed 2012 budget today. It requests a $40 million funding increase to Peace Corps, from $400 million; though again, International Organizations and Peacekeeping will see a $269 million decrease, or 7.1 percent. In total, Obama is proposing about $47 billion for the Department of State and Other International Programs, a 1 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2010, according the Office of Management and Budget.

In comparison, the Obama administration has proposed beefing up the Department of the Defense's budget by $22 billion, to $553 billion.

The point is, the Peace Corp’s fiscal year 2010 budget saw the highest year-to-year increase from Congress, from $340 million to $400 million, but it's nowhere near funding needed to fulfill candidate Obama’s 2007 promise (PDF) to double the Peace Corps from 7,800 to 16,000 volunteers by 2011, the program’s 50th anniversary.

Currently, the Peace Corps has 8,655 volunteers -- and the cuts haven't even started.