Advocacy Update ~ October 9, 2018

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

Appropriations Update

Determined to get the appropriations process back on track this year, Congress passed and the President signed five of the 12 appropriations bills before the end of the Fiscal Year (FY) on September 30. On September 28, the President signed an appropriations minibus that includes the Labor, Health and Human Services and Defense spending bills, as well as a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds remaining appropriations bills, including the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) bill, until December 7. The differences in the House and Senate versions of the FY 2019 SFOPS appropriations bill, which funds global health programs at USAID and the State Department, will be worked out in conference during the next few months. Votes on the remaining appropriations bills are expected to occur in a lame duck session after the midterm elections.

BUILD Act on the Move

The FAA Reauthorization Act, which includes the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (H.R. 5105/S. 2463), also known as the BUILD Act, passed in the House and Senate.

The BUILD Act is aimed to assist economic growth in developing countries through U.S. business investments and will create the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), assuming the activities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USAID’s Development Credit Authority, USAID’s Enterprise Funds, and other programs.

The IDFC will have broad authority to perform multiple tasks, some of which include issuing direct loans, providing technical assistance, and assisting in making limited grants to unlock larger investments. Under the BUILD Act, the IDFC will prioritize projects in low- and lower-middle-income countries where it furthers U.S. national security and economic interests.

In a joint press statement released by the Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), cosponsors of the Senate bill, Senator Corker stated, “Our legislation will advance American interests for stability abroad by using the free-market to help countries become more self-reliant and put U.S. foreign aid programs out of business.” Senator Coons added, “The bipartisan BUILD Act will create a 21st century development finance institution with the full suite of tools to bring U.S. private sector investment to low income countries around the world. These new investments will reduce poverty in countries that are critical to our national security while helping U.S. businesses grow and succeed.”

The President is expected to sign the FAA reauthorization and BUILD Act bill in the next few days.

PEPFAR Reauthorization Passes Out of Committees

In late September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) passed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Reauthorization bill (S. 3476/H.R. 6651), which will extend programmatic funding until 2023. During markup, HFAC amended its bill to address the omission of the set aside for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) impacted by HIV/AIDS, which had been included in PEPFAR law since 2003. Floor votes on the bill are anticipated to occur after midterm elections in November.

On September 27, during the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary Pompeo announced the release of 2018 Progress Report on the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020).

Administration Transferred Crucial HHS Funds

In September, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sent a letter to Congress detailing his intention to transfer up to $266 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accounts that support health, education, and research programs—some of which include programs led by the CDC and NIH—to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to cover costs associated with caring for unaccompanied children crossing the border.

Accounts that we know are affected include:

1.) $16.7 million from CDC overall

 a. )$1.9 million from NCEZID
b.) $1.286 million from CDC Global Health

i. $436,000 Global HIV/AIDS
ii. $597,000 polio
iii. $170,000 measles
iv. $83,000 parasitic diseases and malaria

2.) $87.269 million from NIH overall

a.) $12.123 million from NIAID, incl. $235,000 universal flu vaccine
b.) $178,000 from Fogarty
c.) $1.744 million from NCATS

While the transfer is fait accompli, GHC is circulating an organizational sign on letter to Secretary Azar expressing our concerns about the precedent set by these transfers, and the impacts they have on global health long term.

If you are interested in signing on, please email advocacy@globalhealth.org for a copy of the letter. Deadline is Wednesday, October 10.