Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Proposing the Establishment of a Permanent Peace Corps.
I have the honor to transmit herewith for the consideration of the Congress a legislative proposal to authorize the establishment of a Peace Corps in fiscal year 1962, as I recommended on March 1, 1961 Enactment of this legislation will provide authority for the recruitment, training, and service overseas of American men and women whose skills and knowledge can contribute in a most valuable and practical way to the achievement of social and economic development goals of developing countries.
Simultaneously with my Special Message to the Congress of March 1, I directed the undertaking of a Peace Corps pilot program to serve as a source of information and experience in formulating plans for a more permanent organization. The Peace Corps has already announced projects to be undertaken in Tanganyika, Colombia, and the Philippines, and others will be announced soon. Progress and planning to date has confirmed that there is a genuine and immediate need in many parts of the world for skilled manpower which the Peace Corps will be able to furnish. Moreover, the governments and peoples of many developing countries have enthusiastically received the idea of a Peace Corps.
Americans as well are responding to this opportunity to serve their country. More than 8,500 Peace Corps Volunteer Questionnaires have been returned, and additional questionnaires are being received at a rate of more than 100 every day.
This legislative proposal requests that Congress authorize $40 million for this program for the fiscal year 1962. This should enable the Peace Corps to have 500-1,000 volunteers abroad by the end of this calendar year, to have approximately 2,700 abroad or in training by June 1962 and to provide for the training during the summer of 1962 of volunteers expected to be enrolled in June and July 1962.
Under the proposed legislation volunteers will receive a living allowance and subsistence adequate to maintain a modest standard of living overseas. In addition, their health is carefully provided for. In return for service, each volunteer will receive a modest monthly payment which, in most cases, will be accumulated to be paid upon the termination of his duty.
I have further requested the Secretary of State to establish arrangements to assure that Peace Corps activities are consistent and compatible with country development assistance plans. These arrangements will assure that the Peace Corps and the Agency for International Development programs are brought into dose relationship, while at the same time preserving the separate identity and unique role of the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps offers a special and timely opportunity to put dedicated Americans to work for the cause of world peace and human understanding. Therefore, I urge the early consideration and enactment by the Congress of the proposal.
JOHN F. K.ENNEDY
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
For the President's remarks upon signing the Peace Corps bill, see Item 380.
John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Proposing the Establishment of a Permanent Peace Corps. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234629