Advocacy Update ~ April 23, 2018

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Policy & Advocacy Manager, and Melissa Chacko, Policy Associate.

Changes Announced at USAID
In early April, USAID unveiled a proposed reorganization of the agency designed to support Administrator Mark Green’s mission to end the need for foreign assistance. The plan is the latest step in the “redesign,” now known as “transformation” plan, that had been launched in spring 2017 by the Office of Management and Budget. The plan outlines several broad goals that include elevating humanitarian assistance; building resilient communities and countries; and focusing on conflict prevention and stabilization. Several new bureaus would be created to oversee these areas of work including a Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, which would house two “Centers of Excellence” focused on nutrition and water, and a Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation, which would bring together existing work on technical and program design. In addition, a new bureau is proposed for better integration of policy and budget, which would include coordination of new “self-reliance metrics” – indicators measuring the progress of countries toward transitioning from foreign assistance.

No changes were proposed to the Bureau for Global Health, and global health is largely absent from the proposal. In briefings with stakeholders, USAID staff have stated that they will ensure coordination between global health and the new centers for nutrition and water under the new structure.

Comments on the proposed plan can be made to USAID by May 4 (to receive a copy of the plan, please email advocacy@globalhealth.org). A final plan is expected to be presented to Congress this summer.

Appropriations Update

  • FY 2018 – Update on Rescission: As we reported in the last Advocacy Update, President Trump and a few House Republicans are considering a rescission bill, which would cut appropriated funds from the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending package. In the absence of a line item veto, rescission is a way for President Trump to cut funding to specific accounts. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has dismissed a rescission, saying that it would be a bad idea to “walk back” from a deal made with Democrats on the Omnibus. The administration, however, seems to continue to push the idea and will send Congress its rescission requests by early May. Both chambers would need to approve the cuts by a simple majority.
  • FY 2019 Update: Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), who took over the Senate Appropriations Committee upon Senator Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) retirement on April 1, has stated that he would like to have FY 2019 bills marked up and on the Senate floor by June. President Trump has said that he does not want to sign another omnibus, so it’s expected that Congress could pass several “minibuses” or individual appropriations bills combined into small spending packages.

USAID Administrator Mark Green is on the Hill this week to testify before the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on State Foreign Operations and Programs (SFOPs) on the FY 2019 budget request for USAID. Administrator Green will appear before the House subcommittee on April 26 at 2:00 pm. He is expected to appear before the Senate subcommittee on April 24.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Nomination Hearing for Mike Pompeo
On April 12, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a nomination hearing for Mike Pompeo to serves as Secretary of State. While the hearing touched upon State Department funding and human rights, there was no focus on development or global health. On funding, Pompeo said that he would defend needed resources for the State Department. Further when asked by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) if Pompeo would spend the funds that Congress appropriated to the agency Pompeo stated that “he had a legal requirement to do so and would try to make sure he’s doing so in a way that delivers value.” With Pompeo’s hearing behind us, we are now waiting for a decision from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with a vote possible as early as this week.

Dr. Kenneth Staley named the New U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator
In early April, the White House announced Dr. Kenneth Staley as the new U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator with the  U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). Previously Dr. Staley worked on product development and innovation as a Director of Medtronic, and for the last few years, he was with McKinsey and Company, where he led teams working on public health crisis response, including Ebola and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Dr. Staley takes over a newly expanded PMI: in September 2017 USAID Administrator Mark Green announced new country programs in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, and Sierra Leone and an expanded country program in Burkina Faso.