Advocacy Update – September 25, 2017

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

House passes Mini Omnibus for FY18

In mid-September, the House made unexpected progress in the annual appropriations process, and passed a mini Omnibus bill, made up of eight spending bills, for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The Omnibus included funding for global health in the State and Foreign Operations and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education sections of the bill. To put this in perspective, the last time the House completed the appropriations process before the end of the fiscal year was in 2009.

Overall in State and Foreign Operations, which funds USAID and the State Department, funding for global health programs decreased slightly ($8.3 billion for FY18 compared to $8.7 billion for FY17). While most global health programs were flat funded, Family Planning had a 25% cut at $461 million. In the Labor, Health, and Human Services section, top-line funding for NIH increased by $1.1 billion to $35.2 billion. For the CDC, the Center for Global Health was flat funded and funding for the Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases slightly decreased.

Global health also received some attention in the amendment process. Representative David Engel (D-NY) introduced an amendment to increase funding for TB at USAID from $241 million to $450 million. Although the amendment failed, it was an opportunity to highlight the need for additional funding for TB. Representative Claudia Tenney (R-NY) proposed an amendment to increase funding for community block grants by offsetting funding for CDC global health by $14 million, which could have had an impact on the Center for Global Health’s ability to respond during an outbreak. After a floor debate on the need for increased funding for CDC community block grants, the amendment was withdrawn.

The Senate, while not as far along as the House, has made gradual progress on appropriations. Earlier this month, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded through December 8, giving the two chambers time to negotiate the differences between their respective spending bills. For the latest on appropriations in the Senate read the Advocacy update from September 11.

View the full Funding Chart.

FY19 Budget Recommendations

Although we are still waiting to see how the FY18 budget process will play out, work has already begun on the FY19 budget. It is our understanding that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) instructed federal agencies to use the FY18 President’s budget as the starting point for coming up with their requests for the coming fiscal year. The President’s budget cut foreign assistance, which includes the global health accounts, approximately 30%, so we can expect to see similar recommendations in the FY19 budget.

In late August, GHC sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recommendations for FY19 for the global health accounts at USAID, State Department, as well as the Center for Global Health at CDC, and a few key accounts at NIH. Recognizing the limitations placed on the agencies, GHC recommended at a minimum funding levels that match FY17 levels (for a few accounts, GHC used the House FY18 number if it was higher. At the time, the Senate numbers were not available), but also included higher funding recommendations to demonstrate what is needed to have the greatest impact.

GHC met with OMB in early September to discuss our recommendations and why investing in global health and development is critical.

To compare the FY19 recommendations with the President’s FY18 budget, please refer to the full funding chart above.

Civil Society Recommendations for Six-Month Review of Mexico City Policy

Global Health Council released a statement of principles, endorsed by over 100 civil society organizations, on the upcoming six-month review of the impact of the expanded Mexico City Policy. The State Department proposed a six-month review of the policy’s impact on U.S. global health programs, which have saved and improved the lives of millions around the world. As the timeline approaches for the six-month review, the statement of principles provides recommendations for a review that is meaningful and comprehensive, and proposes an annual review to understand how the policy affects U.S. programs and their outcomes long-term. Read GHC’s press release.

GHC has shared and discussed the statement with State Department, USAID, and others.

Redesign Process: GHC Releases Statement on Importance of Global Health

Earlier this month, federal agencies submitted to OMB their proposals for a “redesign” or restructuring of their respective internal structures, including offices, programs, etc. The foreign assistance community has been closely following the process as it relates to the State Department and USAID, and the role that foreign assistance will have in U.S. engagement globally.

While the process has not been entirely transparent, civil society was invited to several stakeholder listening sessions to provide comments and ask questions of the “Redesign” team at State and USAID. These sessions were not entirely productive as the community was not provided detailed information on the team’s specific plans for restructuring, making it difficult to provide meaningful comments.

GHC released a statement, endorsed by a number of organizations, to USAID and State emphasizing the importance of global health in development. As we did not have details on how, or even if, global health programming would be restructured, the statement is purposely broad. The statement was also shared with OMB, which will make any final decisions on restructuring.

It is unclear at this time, if any of the proposals will be shared publicly, but watch this space for updates as the process moves forward.