Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update ~ March 20, 2017

By Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, Global Health Council

Trump’s Proposed Budget Includes Cuts to State Department and USAID

On Thursday, the Trump administration released its first budget with recommendations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Known as a “skinny” budget because only topline funding recommendations for federal agencies are provided, this initial budget provides insight into President Trump’s priorities. A fuller budget with funding recommendations for specific accounts and programs is expected in May.

As had been reported in the media prior to the release, President Trump has proposed a boost of $54 billion to defense spending and offsetting this increase by cutting nondefense discretionary spending by an equal amount, including “deep cuts to foreign aid.” (see page 2, President’s Message)

The administration proposed a 28% cut to the base budgets of the State Department and USAID. When reductions to the Overseas Contingency Operations account are included, the agencies are facing closer to a 30-31% reduction in their budgets. While it’s unclear at this point how these cuts will be applied to various accounts and programs, we can expect cuts to global health, development assistance, and humanitarian response. The administration also signals an intent to refocus “economic and development assistance to countries of greatest strategic importance to the U.S.” (see page 34, Department of State, USAID, AND Treasury International Programs).

Several global health programs were specifically mentioned: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, PEPFAR, malaria, and The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (pages 33-34); however, the vague wording does not make it clear if current funding levels will be maintained or if the recommended funding will enable these programs to carry out robust programing. And noticeably missing from the budget are other key global health programs, including maternal and child health, tuberculosis, nutrition, family planning, and NTDs. One possibility is that these accounts could be targeted for cuts to maintain funding for the programs highlighted in the budget.

The administration also proposed a reduction in funding to the UN and affiliated agencies, with an expectation that “these organizations rein in costs and that the funding burden be shared more fairly among members.”

There was little information provided on the budget for CDC, with the exception of shifting $500 million to block grants for state. The administration did propose to create a new Federal Emergency Response Fund to ensure rapid response to public health outbreaks (see page 22, Department of Health and Human Services)

As noted previously, several members of Congress spoke out against the deep cuts to foreign assistance, citing its importance to the leadership role the U.S. plays in the world. As Congress ultimately determines the federal budget, it seems clear that appropriations bills will not mirror this budget request.

As the focus on the budget process shifts to Capitol Hill, the global health community will need to be vocal about maintaining funding for global health accounts, and foreign assistance more broadly. Read GHC’s full statement on President Trump’s Budget.

Ways to Get Involved:

USGLC “Leading Globally Matters Locally” Campaign (March 20-24):
Campaign to support the foreign assistance account; see social media toolkit

UN Foundation/Better World Campaign (ongoing):
Access fact sheet, press release, and social media toolkit on the importance of U.S. funding to the UN and the impact cuts will have

NTD Bill Reintroduced

In early March, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) reintroduced the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) bill (H.R. 1415) in Congress. The bill is co-sponsored by Congressman Gregory Meeks [D-NY], who along with Congressman Smith, is a co-chair of the House Congressional Caucus on Malaria and NTDs. The bill focuses on facilitating effective research and treatment for neglected tropical diseases, including Ebola, through domestic and international coordinated efforts.

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Proposed White House Budget Cuts Risk Stalling Global Health Progress
Global Health Council Statement on President Trump’s Proposed Budget

Washington, DC (March 16, 2017)  Today President Donald Trump released a proposed budget that contains close to a one-third reduction in federal funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). These cuts will have a significant impact on foreign assistance, which includes development and humanitarian assistance and funding to the UN, and will have a devastating effect on the world’s poor and have ripple effects for Americans.

Global Health Council is deeply concerned that these cuts to foreign assistance will include global health programs, which would roll back years of progress made in fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and polio; improving maternal and child health; and strengthening global responses to disease outbreaks such as Zika and Ebola.

Foreign assistance accounts for just 1% of the overall federal budget, but this low cost of life-saving programs yields a significant return on U.S. investments. Surveys continually show many Americans support our leadership role in the world. With support from the United States, we are within sight of an AIDS-free generation; ending preventable child and maternal deaths; and eradicating polio, measles, and guinea worm. These investments in global health contribute to broader foreign policy goals, including stabilizing volatile areas, supporting overseas disaster response, and accelerating trade and development.

“The United States has helped millions of people transition out of poverty and live longer and healthier lives, which creates more stable and economically thriving countries. Along with defense and diplomacy, development is a critical part of our role in the global arena, and the proposed cuts jeopardize that role,” stated Loyce Pace, President and Executive Director of Global Health Council.

Global Health Council calls on Congress to continue to support foreign assistance, including global health programs, by supporting funding of $60 billion for Fiscal Year 2018. Funding these critical accounts that support health, WASH, education, nutrition, and gender programs, as well as humanitarian responses, ultimately strengthens U.S. leadership around the world and fosters a safer, more prosperous America.

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About Global Health Council
Established in 1972, Global Health Council (GHC) is the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers, and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. GHC represents the collaborative voice of the community on key issues; we convene stakeholders around key priorities and actively engage with decision makers to influence global health policy. Learn more at www.globalhealth.org. Global Health Council published “Global Health Works: Maximizing U.S. Investments for Healthier and Stronger Communities,” comprehensive consensus recommendations and impact stories available at www.ghbb.globalhealth.org.

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Advocacy Update – March 6, 2017

By Danielle Heiberg, GHC Advocacy Manager

Budget Update

Ahead of President Trump’s speech to Congress last week, it was reported in the media that the administration was sending budget guidance to federal agencies that includes a $54 billion increase to defense and decreasing by the same amount funding to nondefense discretionary accounts.

While exact figures are not known, it was reported that most discretionary accounts would see a 15% cut, while State Department could be facing a 37% cut, reducing its funding to pre-9/11 levels. Such a drastic cut to the State Department account, which also funds USAID, would most likely mean reducing staff levels and drastic cuts to development assistance. While the global health account is separate from development assistance, a cut to these programs will have an effect on the work of our community.

The President is expected to release a “skinny budget” on March 14, but it is doubtful that this budget will contain detailed funding levels for individual accounts. A fuller budget is expected in May.

Congress, which holds the power of the purse, did not react favorably to the initial reports regarding the President’s Budget; Senator Lindsay Graham declaring it “dead on arrival.” Other Republicans also spoke in support of foreign assistance and not balancing the budget through cuts to discretionary programs.

While this is hopeful, it remains critical that we continue to advocate on Capitol Hill on the importance of foreign assistance and on maintaining funding levels. Last week, GHC sent a letter, signed by 70 global health organizations, to the Chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees supporting the foreign assistance account and highlighting successes due to U.S. investments in global health, nutrition, food security, and other areas.

Update on Mexico City Policy

GHC understands that field guidance was issued outlining the implementation of the Mexico City Policy as it relates to family planning assistance at USAID. The Mexico City policy (also known as the global gag rule) was reinstated by President Trump in the first few days of his administration, however, President Trump expanded the policy to include all global health assistance, not just family planning assistance.

As expected, and consistent with the previous implementation in 2001, that as a condition of receiving family planning assistance from USAID, foreign NGOs will need to agree that they do not provide or promote abortion services or referrals. U.S. NGOs will need to certify that none of their foreign NGO subgrantees provide such services. This will be applied to all new USAID grants and cooperative agreements, as well as existing grants and cooperative agreements when they are amended, that provide family planning assistance.

USAID will release further guidance on how the global gag rule will be applied to global health assistance.

In mid-February, GHC held a community discussion on the global gag rule and how the reinstatement and expansion will affect our community. For more information on the discussion and next steps, email advocacy@globalhealth.org.

For more information:

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Mulvaney Confirmed and FY18 Budget

Last Thursday, the Senate confirmed Representative Mick Mulvaney to serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Mulvaney is a fiscal conservative and has called for cuts not only to entitlement programs, but also to defense spending. With Mulvaney now confirmed, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 process is expected to be kick started.

The budget process for FY18 has gotten off to a slow start: a “skinny” budget is expected to be released by President Trump in March (originally rumored to be released in late February), with a full budget to follow in May. The skinny budget will only have topline funding recommendations, so we may have to wait until the full budget to have the complete picture of how global health accounts will fare under the new administration.

With Mulvaney at the helm of OMB and President Trump indicating an interest in increasing defense spending, it could mean that the International Affairs budget, under which global health funding falls, could take a cut, and how deep that cut goes remains to be seen. GHC, along with other global health and development advocates, have been busy on Capitol Hill these past few weeks, meeting with congressional offices to advocate for sustained funding for development.

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Advocacy Update – February 6, 2017

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Global Health Council Advocacy Manager.

Budget Update

It is expected that President Trump will release a “skinny” budget in February. This initial budget will provide a top-line look at the administration’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2018 funding levels for federal agencies and programs. A fuller budget is expected from the President by mid- to late April.

Reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule

President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy (also known as the global gag rule) in the first days of his administration. Read more in an update from GHC’s Executive Director.

GHC will host a community discussion about the global gag rule on February 23 at 9:30 am ET. More details will be emailed shortly. For more information, email advocacy@globalhealth.org.

Role of U.S. in the United Nations

Over the past several weeks, there have been discussions on Capitol Hill and in the Trump Administration on the role of the United States in the United Nations (UN) and the contributions the U.S. pays to the organization and its agencies.

In late January, the New York Times reported that the White House was preparing to sign an Executive Order that would call for a 40% reduction in funding to the UN and other international organizations. A commission would be established to study where those cuts should be made. However, the administration did not move forward with signing the Executive Order, and it appears to be hold for now.

On Capitol Hill, there are a number of bills related to the US contributions to the UN. Many of these bills are introduced every Congress, and rarely move. Of note, is S.107, The Safeguard Israel Act of 2017, introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which would prohibit U.S. contributions to the UN until the resolution on Israeli settlements has been repealed. S.107 has garnered more interest, currently with 23 cosponsors, than similar legislation. Read more in the Better World Campaign’s press release.

Update on Trump Nominations

On January 24, the Senate confirmed South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The final vote was 96-4, with four Democrats voting no.

The following week, on February 1, the Senate voted on former ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State. The Senate confirmed Tillerson with a 56-43 vote. While most Democrats voted against him, three Democrats and one Independent supported Tillerson’s nomination.

The wait continues for the nominee for Administrator of USAID, with rumored names changing frequently. Meanwhile, in the same memorandum naming Steve Bannon to the National Security Council (NSC), USAID was given a permanent role on a lower committee of the NSC. Devex reports, “The Deputies Committee is a ‘senior sub-Cabinet interagency forum for the consideration of, and where appropriate, decision-making on, policy issues that affect the national security interests of the United States,’ according to the memorandum.” Read the Devex article.

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