Advocacy Update ~ August 20, 2018

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

President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Reauthorization Bill

On August 3, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), with Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Karen Bass (D-CA) as additional cosponsors, introduced the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018 (H.R. 6651). The bill reauthorizes the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through 2023 and upholds the United States’ commitment to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In a press release, Representative Lee stated, “For the last 15 years, PEPFAR has been a testament to the bipartisan cooperation on U.S. leadership in global public health. Thanks to PEPFAR, millions of lives have been saved through HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and education. But our work is far from over – we are at a tipping point and Congress must recommit to this fight…I am so proud of our work across the aisle, ensuring that PEPFAR can continue to save lives for decades to come.”

GHC Executive Director Loyce Pace welcomed the legislation, stating, “Over the past 15 years, PEPFAR has had an impact on the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as building health systems to address malaria, TB, and maternal and child health. By renewing our commitment to this groundbreaking initiative, we emphasize its value and pave the way for even more global health progress worldwide.”

Read GHC’s full statement here.


OMB Expected to Send Rescissions Package to Capitol Hill

It is expected that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will send a new rescissions proposal to Capitol Hill sometime between now and the end of the fiscal year (FY), on September 30. The rescissions package is expected to target unobligated funds from FY 2017 and FY 2018, and which expire at the end of FY 2018, and could disproportionately impact the International Affairs Budget.

The timing of a new rescissions package is a bit of political maneuver on the part of the administration. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act states that Congress has 45 legislative days to act on a rescissions proposal, and during this time funding targeted for rescission is impounded, meaning it cannot be spent. If Congress fails to act within the 45 days, impounded funds are released. By timing a rescissions package with fewer than 45 days remaining in the fiscal year and by targeting expiring funds, the administration is essentially forcing Congress to take action to prevent the funds from expiring and returning them to the U.S. Treasury. It is unclear if Congress will take up the rescissions package with a busy schedule planned for September, including the FY 2019 appropriation bills in both chambers and the Supreme Court nomination in the Senate.

GHC will continue to monitor any proposed rescissions and will provide updates as needed.

For more information on the rescission process, please refer to our Rescission FAQ.


Appropriations Update

Both House and Senate State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) and Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations subcommittees have marked up their bills for FY 2019.

The Senate returned from a short recess on August 15 to resume work on the appropriation bills. The Senate is debating a “minibus”–several appropriation bills packaged together–which could contain the LHHS bill. Senate leadership believes a majority of the appropriation bills will be passed by the end of August, but could still leave other bills, like SFOPS, on the table. The House returns from August recess on September 4 and will have a little under two weeks to come to a decision on the bills prior to the end of FY 2018. If Congress has not enacted the bills in time, a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the government open.

As FY 2019 appropriations are being decided, GHC is also working with the greater global health community to complete funding recommendations for FY 2020 which will be delivered to OMB in the next few weeks.

Please refer to our previous Advocacy Update for highlights on each appropriations bill.


Global Health Security Simulation on Capitol Hill

In July, GHC in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, NTI | bio, and PATH hosted Clade X: A Global Health Security Simulation for Congressional staff to demonstrate the need for continued support to prevent serious infectious disease threats. The simulation—an abridged, modified version of the original day-long Clade X pandemic exercise designed and hosted by the Center for Health Security—was conducted to highlight the necessity for effective preventive interventions and the importance of accountability of government agencies during global health crises. The exercise gave Congressional staff a window into the choices government leaders must make during a pandemic and highlighted the need for the U.S. to play a leadership role in the global health security community. Read more.