Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update ~ January 15, 2018

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager.

It’s a New Year but Still No Budget Deal

Congress returned to Capitol Hill at the start of the year to take up where they had left off: how to raise spending caps for defense and nondefense discretionary spending. Raising the spending caps is needed to avoid sequestration, or automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that are set to take effect later this month. Without the budget deal, appropriators have been unable to complete Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending bills. Just before recessing in December, Congress passed a fourth Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating; the current CR expires at midnight on January 19.

According to The Hill, at last week’s GOP conference meeting House leadership seemed “optimistic” that a budget agreement was within reach and that the chamber would consider another CR this week to avoid a government shutdown and give appropriators time to work on a final spending package. The exact length of the CR has not been determined but is expected to last until mid-February.

In early January The Hill featured an op-ed by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager at GHC, and Courtney Carson, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Global Health Technologies Coalition, on why investments in global health, as well as defense, are both critical to keeping Americans safe.

Meanwhile…Focus Turns to FY19

While we await the final spending package for FY18, the global health community is also turning its attention to the release of the President’s Budget for FY19, which is expected on February 5 or 6. Last year President Trump proposed drastic cuts to global health programs at the State Department, USAID, NIH and CDC, and it’s expected that the recommendations could be even lower for the coming fiscal year. The President’s Budget may also provide the first glimpse of the administration’s plans for “redesign,” or restructuring, of federal agencies. (Read more on the redesign process.)

When the President’s Budget is released, GHC will send out an advocacy update along with the recommending funding levels for key global health accounts. Read the recommendations and justifications for FY19 submitted by GHC to OMB.

Advocacy Update ~ December 18, 2017

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

Just before the Continuing Resolution (CR) that was keeping the government open was set to expire on December 8, Congress passed another CR until December 22. The extension gives Congress additional time to reach a budget deal, at which point appropriators can finalize Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending bills, which will most likely happen in January. The additional time is needed as Congress continues to debate funding levels for non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending, and how much NDD spending should be raised in relation to the increase in defense spending.

While there have been calls for parity between defense and NDD spending, parity is a non-starter with Republicans and seems unlikely to happen. What is more likely to occur is that NDD could have a slight increase, although at this time it’s not clear by how much.  An increase in NDD funding would allow for global health programs within the International Affairs and Health accounts to be maintained at FY17 levels.

As of this writing (December 15), the House has released a bill that includes spending for defense for all of FY18 (at $640 billion) and to fund the rest of the government through a CR to January 19. However, the Senate is unlikely to pass this, and is likely to strip the defense spending out and pass a CR for all 12 appropriations bills. The pressure to pass the bill is increasing as sequestration goes into effect on January 19, which means automatic spending cuts for both defense and NDD.

In the midst of this, is the tax reform bill which if passed and Congress takes no additional action, could mean potential cuts to the programs down the road. This is a result of the Statutory Pay-as-You-Go Act of 2010 or Paygo, a law requiring legislation that adds to the deficit needs to cut federal spending.

In response to the budget debate, Global Health Council, with signatures from 50 organizations, sent a letter to Congressional leaders supporting the raising of the NDD spending cap as part of a FY18 budget deal, which would allow sustained funding of global health programs at a minimum of FY17 levels. Read the letter.

World AIDS Day Resolution

Following World AIDS Day, U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced a House Concurrent Resolution (H.Con.Res.96) to support the goals and ideals of this globally recognized day. The Resolution, which has 22 cosponsors, highlights the progress made thus far on reducing new HIV/AIDS infections and urges Congress to support the continued work of the HIV/AIDS movement. Read the resolution.

Advocacy Update ~ December 4, 2017

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

FY18 Appropriations Update

The current Continuing Resolution (CR) that is keeping the government open expires this Friday, December 8. Early last week, there was back and forth between the White House and Democratic Leadership which seemed to point to a government shutdown with the expiration of the CR. However, there are indications that Congress will pass a two-week CR, giving them time to work out a budget deal and address spending caps. This would be followed by another short-term CR lasting into January to give appropriators time to finalize FY18 spending bills.

Community Sounds Alarm on Administration’s Cuts to HIV/AIDS Programs

Ahead of World AIDS Day, 40 NGOs, including Global Health Council, sent a community statement to Congressional leaders sounding the alarm about the administration’s proposed budget for global HIV/AIDS programs. While recognizing that Congress rejected the administration’s proposed cuts to PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund), the organizations urged Congress to do more. Organizations pressed Congress to, at the minimum, fund these programs at FY2017 levels and to support program strategies that strengthen the global HIV/AIDS movement. Read the letter.

House Africa and Global Health Subcommittee: A Global Update on Alzheimer’s Disease

Last week, the House Africa and Global Health Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing for a global update on Alzheimer’s disease. The Subcommittee emphasized the importance of creating affordable medicines and technologies for developing countries at risk for Alzheimer’s, and highlighted the importance of healthcare workers and families who care for Alzheimer’s patients. View the webcast.

Advocacy Update ~ November 20, 2017

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

 

Update on FY18 Appropriations

Congress is working against the clock to pass a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending bill before the Continuing Resolution (CR) ends on December 8. The final push will not be easy, as the current spending levels are higher than the budget caps for FY18. Unless Congress can pass a deal to raise the budget caps, across the board spending cuts, or sequester, will be triggered. It is expected that a short-term CR will be needed for the remainder of December, but it is unclear what a final spending bill will look like.  For the House and Senate proposed FY18 numbers click here.

End Tropical Diseases Act Marked up by House Foreign Affairs Committee

On November 15, Congressman Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) bill, The End Tropical Diseases Act (H.R. 1415), was marked up and passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill aims to expand programs to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which disproportionately impact individuals living in extreme poverty, especially in developing countries. Moreover, the bill calls for USAID and other federal agencies to not only respond to these diseases but also develop and distribute medicines to treat NTDs with an emphasis for field research on the impact of these treatments for future application. As Title II of the bill is under the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the bill must be marked up by that committee before moving to the House floor for a vote. Read the press release statement from Congressman Smith here.

Roundtable Round-Up

1) In mid-November, the NCD Roundtable organized a Hill day and met with 12 Congressional offices to discuss the importance of NCDs in the global health agenda.
2) The Global Health Security Roundtable met with the Office of Global Health at CDC to receive a debrief on the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) ministerial meeting and the extension of GHSA.

If you are interested in joining these roundtables please email advocacy@globalhealth.org.

Advocacy Update ~ November 6, 2017

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

Introduction of Congressional Resolutions to End AIDS in Children
The bipartisan, bicameral resolutions “Recognizing the importance of a continued commitment to ending pediatric AIDS worldwide,” were introduced late last month by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Barbara Lee (D-CA). These four members of Congress were joined by 27 bipartisan peers as original co-sponsors of the resolutions. In a press release statement, Charles Lyon, President and CEO of Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, said, “The introduction of these resolutions puts a spotlight on children and the global AIDS response, but also the important role Congress plays in ensuring that the burden of AIDS is ended in children once and for all.” Read EGPAF’s statement.

Redesign Consensus: A Plan for U.S. Assistance
As uncertainty surrounding proposed foreign aid cuts and redesign, or reorganization, of federal agencies still remains in the air, a number of development and foreign policy experts devised separate proposals on more effective organizational structures primarily focused on  USAID and the State Department and the efficient use of foreign assistance. Authors of six of these plans came together to create a unified approach to achieve an empowered U.S. development function. The “Redesign Consensus: A Plan for U.S. Assistance” is a unified set of practical recommendations and steps that the administration and Congress can take to strengthen effectiveness and coherence to the U.S. aid architecture. Read Redesign Consensus proposal.

USAID Administrator Testifies on Accountable Soft Power in the National Interest
In early November, USAID Administrator Mark Green testified before the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee in an oversight hearing on the role of soft power in national interests. With the President’s proposal of 30 percent budget cuts to foreign aid, the hiring freeze at USAID, and lack of focus and engagement in potential conflict zones, the committee reviewed the recent accountability of U.S. foreign affairs. A range of issues were covered, with only a few questions specifically on global health. Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) questioned the justification for the expansion of the Mexico City Policy to all global health programs, and asked Administrator Green for the data on the impact of the expansion. He indicated that USAID is currently working on a review of the first six months of the expanded policy, and would share the final report with Congress.

Global Health Security Agenda extended to 2024
In late October, during the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Ministerial meeting, partner countries, including the United States, agreed to extend the GHSA to 2024. The GHSA is a growing partnership of 50 nations, international organizations, and non-government stakeholders focused on building countries’ capacity to combat infectious diseases and to elevate global health security as a national and international priority. Learn more about GHSA.