Summary: H.R.2441 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to House with amendment(s) (07/14/2003)

Millennium Challenge Account Authorization and Peace Corps Expansion Act of 2003 - Division A: Millennium Challenge Account - Title I: General Provisions - (Sec. 101) Sets forth definitions and the sunset date of this Act, October 1, 2007.

Title II: Millennium Challenge Assistance - (Sec. 201) Declares the policy of the United States to support a new compact for global development that: (1) increases support by donor countries to those developing countries that are fostering democracy and the rule of law, investing in their people, and promoting economic freedom for all their people; (2) recognizes, however, that it is the developing countries themselves that are primarily responsible for the achievement of those goals; (3) seeks to coordinate the disparate development assistance policies of donor countries, and to harmonize the trade and finance policies of donor countries with their respective development assistance programs; and (4) aims to reduce poverty by significantly increasing the economic growth trajectory of beneficiary countries through investing in the productive potential of the people of such countries.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes the President, acting through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to provide assistance to eligible low income and lower middle income countries to support policies and programs that advance their progress in: (1) achieving lasting economic growth and poverty reduction; and (2) promoting specified objectives fostering democratic societies, human rights, the rule of law, investment in education and health infrastructure and systems, economic freedom, broad-based economic growth, and free market systems.

(Sec. 203) Prescribes eligibility criteria for low income countries for FY 2004 through 2006 and for lower middle income countries for FY 2006. Prescribes specified criteria for FY 2004 through 2006 for any country to receive special assistance solely for the purpose of becoming eligible to receive low income country assistance.

(Sec. 204) Requires recipient countries to enter into a Millennium Challenge Compact with the United States establishing a multi-year plan for achieving shared development objectives. Prescribes the elements of such a compact, taking into consideration the country's national development strategy.

(Sec. 205) Specifies conditions for suspension or termination of assistance, as well as reinstatement.

(Sec. 207) Directs the President, acting through the CEO, to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that U.S. small, minority-owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises fully participate in the provision of goods and services financed with funds made available under this title.

(Sec. 208) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2004 through 2006.

Title III: Millennium Challenge Corporation - Establishes in the executive branch the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), headed by a CEO, to carry out such assistance program.

(Sec. 307) Authorizes agency heads, upon CEO request, to detail employees to the MCC on a reimbursable basis.

(Sec. 308) Establishes a Millennium Challenge Advisory Council to advise the MCC.

(Sec. 309) Authorizes the CEO to provide assistance (seed grants) in support of nongovernmental organizations (including universities and independent foundations and other organizations) in low income and lower middle income countries, which are undertaking research, education, and advocacy efforts aimed at promoting democratic societies, human rights, the rule of law, improved educational opportunities and health conditions, particularly for women and children, and economic freedom.

Title IV: Provisions Relating to United States Economic Assistance - (Sec. 402) Declares the sense of Congress that a coherent framework for U.S. bilateral economic assistance should be established, including specified elements.

Declares that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), under the Secretary of State's direction and foreign policy guidance, should be responsible for: (1) providing assistance to countries that face natural and man-made disasters in order to provide humanitarian relief to their peoples, in coordination with State Department refugee programs; (2) providing assistance to countries suffering from conflicts or in post-conflict situations in order to provide humanitarian relief, transition assistance, and reconstruction assistance; (3) providing assistance to help moderate-to-poorly performing countries achieve development progress in certain areas, and to promote international health worldwide, as well as assisting in the development of country and regional development strategies; (4) addressing transnational problems, such as environmental degradation, food insecurity, and health problems; and (5) assisting other Federal departments and agencies, including the MCC, to carry out assistance activities abroad.

Declares that the MCC should provide assistance to countries that have demonstrated a commitment to bolstering democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, to investing in the health and education of their people, and to promoting sound economic policies that foster economic opportunity for their people.

Declares that the State Department should be responsible for allocating security assistance to support U.S. key foreign policy objectives. Requires the State Department to administer assistance in such areas as nonproliferation, anti-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and relief for refugees.

Declares that other Federal agencies with expertise in international development-related activities should provide expertise in specific technical areas. Requires them to provide assistance, including assistance provided with funds made available from the MCC to assist U.S. Government international development activities.

(Sec. 403) Requires the President to report to Congress triennially, on a country-by-country basis, on the impact and effectiveness of U.S. bilateral assistance furnished under such framework.

Division B: Reauthorization and Expansion of the Peace Corps - Title X: General Provisions - (Sec. 1001) Sets forth definitions and findings.

Title XI: Amendments to Peace Corps Act; Related Provisions - (Sec. 1101) Amends the Peace Corps Act to make the Peace Corps, as an independent agency, responsible for recruiting all of its volunteers.

Requires any presidential detail or assignment of Peace Corps personnel to other Federal agencies to further the fulfillment of Peace Corps' development and public diplomacy goals.

(Sec. 1102) Requires the Director of the Peace Corps to report annually to Congress on: (1) efforts undertaken to improve coordination of Peace Corps activities with activities of international voluntary service organizations; (2) any major new initiatives that the Peace Corps has under review for the upcoming fiscal year, and any undertaken in the previous fiscal year not previously reported on; (3) plans to have 14,000 volunteers in service by 2007 while maintaining the quality of the volunteer experience, and ensuring the safety and security of all volunteers; and (4) standard security procedures for any country in which the Peace Corps operates programs or is considering doing so, including an assessment of whether security conditions would be enhanced by co-locating volunteers with international or local nongovernmental organizations, or with the placement of multiple volunteers in one location.

Requires the Director to consult with the appropriate congressional committees on any major new initiatives not previously discussed in the latest annual report or budget request to Congress.

Requires the Director to report to the appropriate congressional committees on: (1) the student loan forgiveness programs currently available to Peace Corps volunteers upon completion of their service, recommending any additional such programs which could attract more applications from low- and middle-income individuals carrying considerable student-loan debt burdens; (2) progress in recruiting historically underrepresented groups; (3) the medical screening procedures and standards of the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services/Screening Unit to determine whether an applicant has worldwide clearance, limited clearance, a deferral period, or is not medically, including psychologically, qualified to serve in the Peace Corps as a volunteer; and (4) procedures and criteria for matching applicants for Peace Corps service with a host country to ensure that the applicant can complete at least two years of volunteer service without interruption to host country national projects due to foreseeable medical conditions.

(Sec. 1103) Requires the Director to report to the appropriate congressional committees on: (1) recruitment strategies for recruiting and training volunteers with the appropriate language skills and interest in serving in host countries; and (2) the countries that should be priorities for special recruitment and placement of Peace Corps volunteers.

Authorizes and urges the Director to utilize the services of returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff who have relevant language and cultural experience and may have served previously in countries with substantial Muslim populations, in order to open or reopen Peace Corps programs in such countries.

(Sec. 1104) Requires the Director to expand the training program for Peace Corps volunteers in the areas of education, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria) prevalent in host countries in order to ensure that the Peace Corps increases its contribution to the global campaign against such diseases.

Urges the Director to designate: (1) a Peace Corps officer or employee located in the United States to coordinate all HIV/AIDS activities within the Peace Corps; and (2) an individual within each country in sub-Saharan Africa, the Western Hemisphere, and Asia in which Peace Corps volunteers carry out HIV/AIDS activities to coordinate all such activities of the Peace Corps in such countries.

(Sec. 1105) Amends the Peace Corps Act to revise requirements for the Peace Corps National Advisory Council.

Reduces the number of Council members from 15 to 11, eliminating the requirement that they be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Requires that they be appointed by the Director.

Requires six of the members to be former Peace Corps volunteers, at least one of whom shall have been a former staff member abroad or in the Washington headquarters. Limits to six the number of members of the same political party.

Eliminates the position of Vice Chair. Limits the term of Chair to two years, renewable by the Director.

(Sec. 1106) Increases the readjustment allowance from $125 to $275 for each month of satisfactory service during FY 2004 and $300 for each such month afterwards.

(Sec. 1107) Authorizes the Director (or designee) to: (1) award grants on a competitive basis to private nonprofit corporations to enable returned Peace Corps volunteers to use their knowledge and expertise to develop and carry out the programs and projects to promote the objectives of the Peace Corps Act; and (2) transfer funds for such purpose to the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Permits such programs and projects to include: (1) educational programs designed to enrich the knowledge and interest of elementary school and secondary school students in the geography and cultures of other countries where the volunteers have served; (2) projects that involve partnerships with local libraries to enhance community knowledge about other peoples and countries; and (3) audiovisual projects that utilize materials collected by the volunteers during their service that would be of educational value to communities.

Limits the grant eligibility of private nonprofit corporations to those with a board of directors composed of returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff with a background in community service, education, or health.

Limits grant amounts to an individual program or project to $50,000.

Authorizes appropriations for such grant program in addition to those made available to the Peace Corps under this division.

Declares that the Crisis Corps has been an effective tool in harnessing the skills and talents of returned Peace Corps volunteers. Requires the Director to increase the number of available Crisis Corps assignments for returned Peace Corps volunteers to at least 120 assignments in FY 2004, 140 assignments in FY 2005, 160 assignments in FY 2006, and 165 assignments in FY 2007.

(Sec. 1108) Declares the support of Congress for the goal announced by President Bush of doubling the number of Peace Corps volunteers to 14,000 by 2007 and for the funding levels necessary to accomplish this growth.

(Sec. 1109) Declares the sense of Congress that the Peace Corps should return its program to Sierra Leone as soon as security conditions are consistent with the safety and security of its volunteers.

(Sec. 1110) Amends the Peace Corps Act to authorize appropriations for FY 2004 through 2007.