This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, and Melissa Chacko, Policy Associate.
Deal or No Deal? FY18 Budget Update
Congress was unable to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) by the midnight deadline on January 19, leading to a “mini-shutdown” of the federal government. Although a compromise was reached a few days later and the government reopened, a final spending package for federal agencies is still weeks away. A number of issues, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as well as how much to raise spending caps, continue to bog down the work on Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The current CR runs until February 8 and over the next few weeks, Congress will continue to focus on these unresolved issues. On spending caps, Democrats continue to push for parity between defense and non-discretionary defense (NDD) spending levels. Republicans counter, that defense spending has been hit harder due to sequestration and the defense cap needs to be raised. Even if a budget agreement is passed by February 8, the work is not over. Another CR lasting into March will be needed to give appropriators time to finish work on spending bills. The outlook on this timeline is tentative as we wait to see how the debate unfolds over the next few weeks.
President’s FY19 Budget
The President’s Budget for FY19 is delayed by a week. Originally set for February 5, the White House announced that due to the government shutdown the release date is now February 12.
Update on Redesign
Late last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) temporarily suspended its engagement with the State Department on the restructuring, or redesign, of the federal agency. In an email to USAID staff working on the redesign process, the head of the team instructed personnel to discontinue work on joint agency process. USAID clarified that this is only temporary as it awaits clarification from the State Department on the roles and responsibilities of staff assigned to the process.
Updates on Pending Legislation
Reach Every Mother and Child Act
Support of The Reach Every Mother and Child Act continues to grow, with 101 cosponsors in the House (H.R. 4022) and 18 cosponsors in the Senate (S.1730). The Reach Act aims to reduce preventable maternal and child deaths through evidence-based and cost effective solutions.
End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act
Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) circulated a Dear Colleague Letter to members of Congress in December asking for support of the End Tropical Diseases Act (H.R. 1415). The bill, which was marked up in November by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, aims to expand programs to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which disproportionately impact individuals living in extreme poverty, especially in developing countries.
Global Health Innovation Act
The Global Health Innovation Act (H.R. 1660) introduced by Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) passed in the House on January 17. The bill supports global health research and development by encouraging the development of health products that are affordable, accessible, and culturally appropriate in low-resource health systems. This bill will require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit a report on the development and use of global health innovations at the agency.
Alex Azar Confirmed as Health and Human Services Secretary
Alex Azar, former president of Eli Lilly U.S., was confirmed as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary on January 24. Before his time at Eli Lilly, Alex Azar served in HHS under President George W. Bush. He replaces Tom Price who resigned in September 2017.