Advocacy Update ~ June 25, 2018

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

FY 2019 Bills Marked Up, Senate Rejects Rescissions, Green Testifies, and Reorganization 
It was busy on Capitol Hill last week with the release of the State and Foreign Operations bills in both the House and the Senate, a vote on the rescission package, and testimony from Administrator Green. On the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House released its reorganization plan for federal agencies.

Senate and House Committees Release SFOPs Bills
Both the Senate and House State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) Appropriations subcommittees marked up and approved their respective bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. With committee action completed, the bills can be brought to the floor for a vote. The House could do this in the coming weeks, packaging the SFOPs bill as part of a “minibus” – several appropriations bills packaged together. The Senate is unlikely to bring the bill to a vote. Download the Funding chart.

Markup of the Labor and Health and Human Services appropriations bills is expected this week in both the House and Senate.

Highlights of the House SFOPs bill

The House provided flat funding for global health at $8.8 billion, and $54 billion for the entire bill. Of note were increased for Maternal and Child Health ($845 million compared to $829.5 million in FY 2018); nutrition ($145 million compared to $125 million in FY 2018); and tuberculosis ($302 million compared to $261 million in FY 2018). These increases appear to have come at the expense of the family planning account, which was decreased from $607.5 million in FY 2018 to $461 million.

During the full committee mark up several members offered amendments related to family planning, including an amendment offered by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) to remove the cap on bilateral funding for family planning; an amendment by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) to repeal the Mexico City Policy; and one offered by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) to restore funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Highlights of the Senate SFOPs bill

The Senate provided approximately about a $100 million increase to global health ($8.8 billion compared to $8.69 billion in FY 2018) and $54.4 billion (an increase of $400 million from FY 2018 levels) for the entire bill. Increases to global health accounts include: family planning ($632.6 million compared to $607.5 million); nutrition (up $10 million to $135 million); vulnerable children (up $2 million to $25 million); tuberculosis (up $14 million to $275 million); neglected tropical diseases (up $6 million to $106 million); and PEPFAR (up $50 million to $4.37 billion). In addition, Water account was increased to $435 million compared to $400 million in FY 2018.

The increase to family planning was part of an amendment by Senator Jeanne Sheheen (D-NH) to provide no less than $632 million for this account, including $37.5 million for the UNFPA. The amendment also strips the legislative language on the Mexico City Policy and replaces it with provisions of the Global HER Act (S.210)

Senate Rejects Rescissions Package
The Senate failed to discharge from committee and bring to the floor H.R. 3, a $15 billion rescission package based on recommendations the White House had sent to Congress in May. The 48-50 vote was along party lines, but Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Susan Collins (R-MN) joined the Democrats in voting no.

If you are a constituent of Senators Burr or Collins, we encourage you to call their offices to express appreciation for their no votes on this rescission package.

USAID Administrator Testifies on USAID Resources and Redesign
USAID Administrator Mark Green testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on USAID Resources and Redesign. The hearing focused on a range of policy issues from the crises in Venezuela and Yemen, to initiatives such as Power Africa and the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act. Relevant to global health, Administrator Green touched upon global health supply chains in his opening statement and stated that USAID continues to monitor the performance of supply chain contracts to ensure that implementers are meeting the requirements.

Members of the committee continue to speak out against the President’s FY 2019 budget, which includes an almost 30% cut to foreign assistance. Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) stated in his opening remarks that, “Congress decides funding levels despite this request, so the request is not relevant to what we [Congress] are doing.”

White House Releases Reorganization Plan
The day after Administrator Green testified on Capitol Hill, the White House released its long-awaited reorganization plan in which it aims to improve the “efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability” of every federal agency. Many of the proposals that would affect the State Department and USAID were rolled out earlier and are being pursued under USAID’s Transformation Initiative. The Global Health Bureau remains intact, but creates new bureaus for Resilience and Food Security; Development, Democracy, and Innovation; and Conflict Prevention and Stabilization. A new Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance would include the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Food for Peace.

The proposal also establishes a new development finance institution by strengthening OPIC and consolidating it with USAID’s Development Credit Authority. A similar proposal is included in the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, which was introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and Congressmen Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Adam Smith (D-WA).

Read more on USAID’s Transformation Plan.