Advocacy Update ~ April 17, 2017

By Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, Global Health

Budget Update

Congress is in the middle of a two-week recess and when they return on Monday, April 24, they will face the expiration of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that is currently funding federal agencies and government programs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, and that is expiring on April 28.

A government shutdown seems unlikely, with members working through about 100 or so amendments, but wanting to avoid “poison pill” riders, such as paying for a wall at the border or defunding Planned Parenthood, on the final spending package. However, if negotiations breakdown, a short CR will be needed beyond April 28.

After FY2017 is finished, Congress will immediately turn to FY2018. President Trump’s full budget is expected to be released in mid-May.

Advocating for Foreign Assistance and Global Health Funding? GHC has developed topline messaging supporting global health and foreign assistance accounts, as well as a “leave behind” document for Congressional offices. We encourage you to use this messaging as you develop your own materials.

Defunding UNFPA

On March 30, the State Department issued a directive cutting off all U.S. contributions to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Citing UNFPA’s work in China, directive cited the requirements of the Kemp-Kasten amendment, which deems an organization ineligible for U.S. funding if it “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization,” to cut off funding.

Although UNFPA does partner with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission on family planning, there is no evidence that UNFPA engages in involuntary sterilization or coercive abortion, which the State Department’s justification even noted.

In FY2016, the U.S. was the fourth largest donor overall to UNFPA, totaling approximately $69.7 million in contributions – around $30.7 million making up core voluntary contributions and the remainder used to address reproductive and maternal health needs in humanitarian crises. For FY2017, the expected loss to UNFPA is about $71 million.

For a more detailed analysis, read PAI’s Phoning It In: State Department Determination Withholds U.S. Contribution to UNFPA.

Reorganization of the Federal Government

In a follow-up to the Trump Administration’s Executive Order to federal agencies to develop plans for reform and streamlining programs, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.” The plan instructs agencies to reduce workforces; submit a plan to modernize and streamline operations; and identify areas that should be restructured, eliminated, or consolidated. Plans are to be submitted in June.

The administration created a website for the public to submit their ideas and comments on how to restructure the government.

GHC is monitoring these developments and working with the foreign assistance community to provide input.