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WASHINGTON-The House International Relations Committee recently reported out favorably the Millennium Challenge Account Authorization and Peace Corps Expansion Act of 2003 (H.R. 2441) The legislation, authored by Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Ranking Member Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) was approved by a vote of 31-4. It would double the size of the Peace Corps and require an annual report on the effectiveness of international assistance programs in addition to creating the Millennium Challenge Accounts. MCAs are designed to bolster economic development in impoverished nations. CUNA has strongly supported such legislation and credit union involvement in its activities. The bill would authorize funding of $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2004, $3 billion for FY05, and $5 billion for FY06. Only a select few of the 70 countries currently eligible for all types of U.S. development assistance will be able to meet the strict criteria for the new program, according to Hyde.

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